Eight Romanian politicians have already submitted their candidacies for the presidential elections in early November and thus officially entered the race for Romania’s presidency, hoping to run the country for the next five years. One of them will replace the current President Traian Basescu, who’s now at the end of his second mandate.
Most of these candidates have previously talked about their intentions and have been campaigning, unofficially, for some months now. The only surprise came from Teodor Melescanu, the chief of Romania’s Foreign Intelligence Service SIE, who announced his resignation from this position on Monday and filed his candidacy for president on the next day.
September 23 is the last day when presidential candidates can still submit candidacies to the Central Electoral Bureau. We will update this list with new names.
The first to file his candidacy was current Prime Minister Victor Ponta. He’s also considered the favorite to win the presidential elections, as he is supported by the ruling coalition, made of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), the National Union for Romania’s Progress (UNPR) and the Conservative Party (PC). Ponta has been running Romania’s Government since May 2012, and is also the president of the PSD.
Ponta, 42, officially launched his candidacy on September 20, on his birthday, in a grand event organized on the National Arena stadium in Bucharest, which was attended by some 70,000 people. This triggered comments from Ponta’s opponents, who compared this event with those held before in the communist era for former president Nicolae Ceausescu, on the same arena.
“At 42, I feel ready to become the president of all Romanians,” Ponta said in his speech. He renewed his call for people to join him on the way to the great union of all Romanians, saying that he wants to be president in 2018, when Romania will celebrate 100 years from the Great Union of 1918. “I want us to discover something that has been lost in Romania: I want us to trust each other, to trust that we are Romanians and that we are proud of this,” he said. His campaign motto is: “Proud to be Romanians!”
Liberal leader Klaus Iohannis was the second to officially file his candidacy. The 55-year old politician of German origin has been serving as mayor of Sibiu, one of Romania’s most developed cities since 2000. In June this year he became president of the National Liberal Party (PNL). In the presidential elections he is supported by the Cristian Liberal Alliance (ACL) which consists of PNL and PDL (Democrat Liberal Party).
Klaus Iohannis submitted some 2.2 million signatures from people who support his candidacy. His message for Romanians was that he will speak less and do more. “I am less a man of words and more a man of deeds. I run for a different way of making politics in our country. Less show, less noise and more solutions for the people, for Romania,” he said. He added that there are no hidden interest groups behind him and no media trusts, only ACL and the 2.2 million Romanians who signed for him.
Iohannis’ target is to make it to the second round of the elections, where he expects to win against Victor Ponta.
Former justice minister Monica Macovei was the third to join the official race. Macovei, 55, is a member of the Democratic Liberal Party (PDL), but she runs as an independent in the presidential elections. She is currently a member of the European Parliament.
When filing her candidacy she said she had two gifts for the main candidates: “a popcorn bag for the young Ceausescu from the Victoria Palace (Victor Ponta – e.n.) to eat while watching me carefully” and a “a mirror for Iohannis, to look at himself and think about how can he become president without saying anything”, she said.
Calin Popescu Tariceanu
Former Romanian Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu runs as an independent, because his new political party, which he founded with former members of the PNL, has not been registered yet. Tariceanu, 62, was Prime minister since December 2004 until December 2008 and is now president of the Senate.
“I think that Romania needs more, needs a country project, an ambitious project to take it where it belongs,” said Tariceanu, whose political program is called “Romania, Europe’s seventh power”. He said he expects to get 20% of the votes in the first round, which would be enough to take him to the second round.
Former tourism minister Elena Udrea aims to continue the projects initiated by current President Traian Basescu, whose political heir she declares herself to be. Udrea, who’s supported by the Popular Movement Party (PMP), an offspring of the Democratic Liberal Party (PDL), also benefits the support of Traian Basescu and of former Prime Minister Emil Boc, who is now mayor of Cluj-Napoca. Udrea is also the PMP president, and wants to become Romania’s first woman president.
She said that she has no secrets. “You have known me for 10 years, with the good and the bad. There’s almost nothing in my life that is not known to everyone, to you, to the press. I have nothing to hide. And I think that Romania finally has the chance to elect a president that has no ties with the communist past and who isn’t an undercover agent,” she said.
The leader of the Magyar Democratic Alliance in Romania (UDMR), Kelemen Hunor, will also run for President. He said that he wants a “strong Romania”, although he recently presented a project for the autonomy of Szeklerland (Tinutul Secuiesc), a group of three counties in the center of Romania where a large part of the population is Hungarian. “A strong state means strong communities”, he said, adding that Romania must invest in culture, education, research and infrastructure. Kelemen Hunor, 46, served three terms as Culture Minister.
Kelemen Hunor also run for president in 2009, when he came fifth, with 3.8% of the votes.
Former media mogul Dan Diaconescu also wants to become Romania’s president. The journalist from Caracal, a small town in Southern Romania, became famous with his OTV TV channel for presenting the mysterious case of Elodia, a Romanian lawyer who disappeared some years ago and was presumably murdered by her husband, a police officer.
Diaconescu founded a political party, the People’s Party – Dan Diaconescu (PP-DD), which came third in the 2012 elections for Romania’s Parliament. He also won the public auction for the privatization of Romania’s largest chemical plant Oltchim, in September 2012, but failed to pay the pledged amount. His TV station OTV was shut down by Romania’s audiovisual regulator CNA, in January 2013.
Diaconescu, 46, said that he’s most likely to win the presidential elections and that he bases his belief on statistics. “I am the only candidate whose name end in <<escu>>, and statistics never got it wrong. Since 1974, all of Romania’s presidents had names that ended in <<escu>>. Although, in the final tour of the elections there have been people whose name didn’t end in <<escu>> who were very well positioned in the polls, something happened every time and they lost to the candidates whose names ended in <<escu>>,” Diaconescu explained.
He also said that he gathered one million signatures from Romanians who support his candidacy, but only filed 300,000 of them.
Former chief of Romania’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE), Teodor Melescanu filed his candidacy on Tuesday, September 22, after resigning his position the day before. At 73, he’s the oldest candidate in the presidential race. He’s been a member of several of Romania’s Governments since 1990. He ran for president before, in 2000, but only came seventh.
He is supported by the Social Fairness Party but also by some organizations of the retirees from the Army. He gathered 400,000 signatures for his candidacy. “I make this step with a lot of confidence. It is a maturity step after a life dedicated to my country,” Melescanu said. He added that he will represent all of Romania’s citizens.
– to be updated as soon as new official candidates submit their candidacies –