A comment from Sânziana
The Romanians are out for blood. And they should have been a long time ago. Contrary to what people think, Romanians are a very peaceful people. Probably too peaceful for their own good. And what other way could they have turned out after centuries of being stepped over by bigger powers coming from all the cardinal points, Russia, Austria, Hungary and the Ottoman Empire? After decades of being under authoritarian, fascist and communist rule? In the big cities of Romania, as well as in cities abroad that concentrate big numbers of Romanian Citizens thousands of people have protested Saturday, the 8th of October for a fairer organisation of the second tour of the presidential elections.
One can often hear in their protests slogans mentioning the „Point 8“. It refers to the 8th point of the „Timisoara Proclamation“, a thirteen-point document where the revolutionaries expressed liberal-democratic goals. Timisoara is the city where the anti-communist revolution first broke out in Romania. The point 8 concerned the former communist party activists, saying that they shouldn’t be allowed to enter the politics for a certain time, in order to let the country take a course towards democratic development. As the small group of people who took over the power after the revolution (and still have it!) would have been affected by this claim, it was not included in the new Constitution. Nowadays, due to the fact that the personal interests of this group are put in front of the national priorities, the whole country suffers.
The two candidates that made it to the second tour are fundamentally opposite: one of them is Victor Ponta, the current prime-minister leading the governing left socialist party (under whom the Romanian economic situation drastically worsened), the other one is Klaus Iohannis, a Romanian with german origins, who happens to be the mayor of one of the few Romanian cities that have experienced a growth in the investment and the tourism sector in the last period of time. Not only represent they different political ideologies, but their characters are, too. Whereas Ponta is the typical political ’’animal“, making obviously untrue statements, lacking diplomacy in foreign affairs and shamelessly disgracing himself one time after the other in public, Iohannis seems unusually silent, calm and cautious for the Romanian political scene.
The first tour of the elections with a 53 % turnout rate showed a great difference between the preferences of those who live in the historical region of ‘’Transylvania“ and the rest of the country. This difference can be explained by the fact that those regions where the socialist party had a majority has a higher percentage of the population living in the rural areas, many of the people receiving social welfare. Now, this shouldn’t be understood in a wrong way: unlike France people don’t vote for the socialist party because of the benefits the social system would have, it’s the so-called electoral bribe: there is proof in the form of coupons for oil, eggs and dairies received, unexpectedly, people who are (or not) socially assisted.
Apart from this appalling gesture, the prime-minister and his party are involved in various corruption scandals that affect the image of the country, as if there weren’t already enough issues Romania is involved in on the international scene. The other candidate, however, is appreciated inside and outside the country for his efforts and achievements, having turned the city he’s been ruling for the past 14 years into a European Capital of Culture in 2007 alongside Luxembourg.
The campaigns were both pretty ’‘dirty”, focusing more on throwing mud at the other candidate than on „selling“ their own. The voting process of the first tour was sabotaged, as lots of the Romanians living abroad weren’t given the right to vote,as there were not enough cabins nor stamps. Some people coming from hundreds of kilometres away had to wait from morning to evening in literally never-ending line but still couldn’t make it to the voting cabins.. Apparently in Rome, some tourists joined the line, supposing that at the end they would find a great touristic attraction. This phenomenon outraged lots of Romanians who wrote open letters to the government, accusing it of sabotage. In the beginning there was no solid proof (for people who still doubt the scheming behind the Romanian political scene), that it was a plot planned by the socialists due to the guess that the emigrants would not vote in their favour, their poor explanations were contradicted by an international response. They tried to escape the accusations saying that in many countries, such as Germany, it was not possible to organise voting stations in places other than the embassies and the consulates. All these statements proved to be fake after checking with the German law.
Moreover, the government freed the Friday before and the Monday after the elections for the students, saying that „they should go home and vote from there in order to avoid the embezzlement of the vote“. Unlucky for the governing party who hoped to avoid further student protest by providing them with a mini-vacation in the middle of the semester, the students weren’t provided with the student cards yet (because of an administrative failure). For many who study far away from home, didn’t seem like it a fair deal and thus still were able to protest.
Apart from the international opinion that is obviously supporting the liberal party’s candidate, the young people have organised all sorts of meetings, written articles, discussed politics more vividly in this past months than they ever had ever since the 1989 revolution. In this way they show their hopes that the Romanian political scene could take a favourable turn after all these years.