The Romanian front-runner

It is now official: 14 contenders will enter the race for the seat at Cotroceni Palace. Some of them are brand new candidates aspiring for the supreme state office, others are regular „lame duck” clients, trying their’s fortune (or misfortune) once again. Despite the editorial’ s title, I would’t dare to weigh each candidate’s odds or to predict one outcome or another. I would lean more on the firsts of this year’s presidential campaign, letting the readers judge who the front-runner might be.

And I shall begin with the ladies „predominance”. For the first time in the Romanian free presidential elections, there will be two female competitors, one of them daringly young and good looking, the creation of the incumbent President Traian Basescu, the other one also a former supporter of Traian Basescu, now running as a independent, playing the technocrat and justice cards. Yet, none of them have any clear confined constituencies based either on age or sex aspects, which somehow proves, and most of the surveys clearly confirm that the Romanian society is not ready for a female President. According to the latest Avangarde survey, Udrea surpassed Macovei having 8.1 per cent and merely 3.5 per cent for Monica Macovei. But their entries in a male commanding race is salutary however, breaking new ground for a louder voice of the Romanian women in the social and political life. In this regard, we look forward to the run-up electoral confrontations, as it is the first time when ladies are in the arena confronting 12 men. „Cat fights” are not out of the question either.

The candidacies of two representatives of Hungarian minority in Romania also represent a premiere in the history of the presidential elections. UDMR leader Kelemen Hunor is challenged one more time from the inside of his community. Szilagyi Zsolt, leader of PPMT (Transylvania Magyar Popular Party), one of UDMR’s competitor parties, explained that his candidature does no harm to the community, meaning, “many hands make light work”. In the circumstances of a presidential bid, Szilagyi’s explanation makes no sense, the more so as neither him or Kelemen have the slightest chances to exceed the mere 5 per cent rating gathered by the Magyar minority in the previous electoral encounters.

Yet, belonging to a different minority other than the Romanian one can be an asset in this campaign, especially when you are German and I undoubtedly refer to Klaus Iohannis, the long-lasting mayor of Sibiu, mostly seen as a providential solution for Romania’s transformation, following the successful pattern of Sibiu, and why not of Germany. Yet, grumblers say it’s one thing to run a city and another one to rule a country, in other terms, having good local administrative skills is not the same with embodying a full-fledged head of state, who has to be more than a manager, but also a hardliner politician, a good mediator and a wise diplomat when negotiating the country’s interests abroad. The same growlers say Iohnnis’ moderate and remiss nature will not speak for him when it comes to the expected mudslinging full of dirty tricks November campaign. Let’s take for example the “undercover intelligence officer” campaign topic thrown out by President Basescu, which turned out to be a mere soap bubble melting away under the derision’s boots of the audience.

All in all, surveys are placing Iohannis second in the voters’ options, with real chances to enter the run-off and to generate a hard final contest, a contest in which the Social-Democrat PM Victor Ponta is undoubtedly in the lead. All surveys give him a comfortable 15 per cent rating ahead Iohannis. Concurrently, the massive partition of the right wing due to the presence of too many rightist candidates cannot be neglected. It can blow Iohannis’ chances off by splitting the share of his votes and paving the way for Ponta’s landslide victory. After all, former PNL Chairman Calin Popescu Tariceanu comes third after Iohannis in the latest CSCI survey. So, everything is possible every which way, especially if we do take into account the ‘don’t knows’ and the floating vote that have been jaw-dropping before in the past.

The last but not the least premiere in this presidential campaign is given by an intelligence head’s entry. Teodor Melescanu, resigning chief of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE) has recently announced his bid for the Cotroceni seat. However the candidacy is nothing new to him, as he ran for Presidency in 2000, as well, but as a political party leader. The premiere derives from the fact that Melescanu is the first intelligence head to give up his term and stand for the supreme state office. A surprising move also comes from the fact that all eyes were set on a possible candidature of the other Romanian intelligence head, George Maior (SRI), although he had constantly rejected the possibility. No one by far considered Melescanu’s bid. It remains to be seen who will do it from now on.



  • The candidates that will enter the race for the seat at Cotroceni Palace are Victor Ponta, on behalf of the Social Democrat Party – Conservative Party – National Union for Romania’s Progress (PSD-PC-UNPR) Aliance, Klaus Iohannis (Christian Liberal Alliance – ACL; made up of National Liberal Party – PNL, and Democratic Liberal Party – PDL), Elena Udrea (People’s Movement Party – PMP), Hunor Kelemen (Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania – UDMR), Dan Diaconescu (People’s Party – Dan Diaconescu; PP-DD), Constantin Rotaru (Socialist Alliance Party – PAS), Corneliu Vadim Tudor (Greater Romania Party – PRM), William Branza (Romanian Ecologist Party – PER), Mirel Mircea Amaritei (Prodemo) and Zsolt Szilagyi of the Hungarian People’s Party of Transylvania (PPMT). The four independent candidates running for the office of President of Romania are Teodor Melescanu (ex-intelligence head), Calin Popescu-Tariceanu (former Liberal PM and the incumbent Senate Speaker), Monica Macovei (former Democrat-Liberal Justice Minister) and Gheorghe Funar (Cluj-Napoca ex-mayour).


  • According to the latest figures released by the Standing Electoral Authority, there are 18,313,698 Romanian citizens eligible to vote in the first round of the presidential elections on Nov. 2, and 18,321,512 on Nov. 16 in the run-off.




campaigncotrocenifront-runnerromanian presidential elections
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