Romania presidential elections 2019: Who is Viorica Dancila, the former PM running to become Romania’s first woman-president?
Romanians go to the polls on Sunday (November 10) to vote their president for the next five years. While incumbent president Klaus Iohannis is the clear favorite, three candidates have the chance to join him in the second round. Romania-Insider.com has compiled brief profiles of the four people with the highest chances of becoming Romania's next president.
As the leader of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), still one of the biggest parties in Romania despite the recent drop in the polls, Viorica Dancila has the highest chances of reaching the second round of the presidential elections if she manages to mobilize her party’s supporters. However, this could turn out to be a difficult job, given that she just lost the prime minister’s seat following a no-confidence motion and PSD’s policies in the last three years have been widely criticized.
Viorica Dancila, 55, was born in Rosiorii de Vede, Teleorman county, in southern Romania. She is an engineer by training, having graduated from the Oil and Gas Institute in Ploiesti, in 1988. She also has a Master degree in European Studies from SNSPA (received in 2006). She worked as a teacher at the Industrial High School in Videle, Teleorman county, from 1989 until 1997, and as an engineer at the Videle branch of the oil company Petrom, from 1997 until 2009.
Dancila joined PSD in 1996 and held various positions in the Teleorman organization until 2014. In 2009, she was elected a member in the European Parliament on PSD’s list and, in 2014, she got a second mandate. However, she was relatively unknown to the public in Romania until January 2018, when former PSD leader Liviu Dragnea brought her back from Brussels and nominated her for prime minister. President Klaus Iohannis accepted the nomination, and the Parliament voted her as the first woman prime minister in Romania’s history.
She spent the first year of her mandate as PM in Dragnea’s shadow as everyone perceived her as someone who executed orders received from the party leader. She showed the first signs of independence after Romania took over the presidency of the EU Council, in January 2019, when it became obvious that Dragnea’s agenda, especially in the justice area, and the Romanian Government’s role of setting the EU agenda were incompatible. However, Dancila only freed herself from this image of following Dragnea’s orders after the PSD’s categoric defeat in the European elections followed by Dragnea’s incarceration for corruption.
Dancila rapidly managed to secure her party leaders’ support and was elected president of PSD. She also decided to run in the presidential elections and convinced the party to endorse her.
Dancila’s campaign motto is “alongside every Romanian”.
“I will be a firm president in defending the spirit of the Constitution and the institutional order. At the same time, I will be a mediating president and the first president to open this institution to the whole of Romania,” is one of the messages on Dancila’s campaign website.
The thing that has made Dancila famous are her frequent gaffes and word confusions. The most recent ones she made during her presidential campaign. At an event in Marasesti, one of the symbolical sites for Romania’s fight during World War I, Dancila said she is fighting “against a country where all Romanians can find themselves”. In another conference, she said her party’s goals is “to win the presidential, local and parliamentary elections from last year”. Dancila also said recently that Romanians who speak foreign languages well care less about their country. Dancila is married and has one child.
(Photo source: Viorica Dancila Facebook page)