The first round of our presidential elections took place yesterday. Preliminary results indicate that the actual President of Romania, Mr. Traian Băsescu, has won the round, obtaining 32 % of the votes, followed by the socialist candidate, Mr. Mircea Geoană, with 30 % of the votes, and by the liberal candidate, Mr. Crin Antonescu, who obtained a decent 22 %. Also, the referendum concerning the reform of the Romanian parliament (one chamber instead of two, and 300 members of the parliament instead of 471) was, most probably, validated, as more than 50% of the citizens expressed their position about its reform.
The good news about this round was the high participation of the citizens to the elections, with estimates varying from 53 to 55 % of Romanians who voted. Definitely a change for the better, when compared to a participation of less than 30% no more than a year ago, for the European parliamentary elections, or when compared with the predictions - which spoke of a no more than 45 % participation. It means that people DO care about what happens to this country, and actually this is the best thing happening in Romania for a long time.
The question is now who will get through the second round as winner. None of the two candidates is perfect. Mr. Băsescu comes after five years of continuous conflicts, and people are disappointed by how he promoted his family to important positions. I don't know how natural it is for a westerner to see the daughter of the President becoming a member of the European parliament, but for me this was definitely a bad, a very bad and truly disappointing move. Not to mention that ordinary people do NOT actually live (much) better now than in 2004.
Now, the problem is that his contender (or what his contender represents) is, in my view, even worse. It is sadly ironic how Mr. Geoană, our former ambassador to Washington some 10 years ago, went in a private visit to Moscow in April this year (visit which he kept secret, of course), demanding Russian support for his election as President of Romania. So, my question: how can we possibly vote for a candidate who proves himself to be dependent of the support of a foreign power? How credible would Romania be, as a member of NATO and the EU, with such a politician as its head of state?
However, this is not my main concern, nor the reason for which I shall (reluctantly) vote for Mr. Băsescu on the second round. Some may have forgotten, but one of the most important issues five years ago in Romania (ruled, then, by the very same party which now proposes Mr. Geoană as candidate for presidency) was freedom. Freedom of the press, to be more precise. Freedom to criticize the government without the concern of being charged for hooliganism or imprisoned for alleged defamation of an official. Do we really want to come back to such a situation? I mean, the picture of what our entire press could be reduced to - in a matter of months - lies right in front of our eyes, as journalists from some of the most important Romanian media trusts have virtually no editorial freedom on political matters.
I, honestly, do prefer a situation of continuous conflict (like that from 2004 to 2009) to a situation where I have to be careful about what position I take (like the situation from 2000 to 2004).
Just my two cents.
Just my two cents.