As predicted below, the Presidential run off in Romania will be between (incumbent) Traian Basescu and Mircea Geoana of the PSD. So basically that means more of the same for Romania. Let's be honest here, electing a president from the PSD will not represent a huge change for Romania given that they've been in power for the vast majority of the time since 1989 (and before that too, since the PSD is essentially the rebranded Communist party).
One thing that is noticeable in the foreign press's coverage of this election is the insistence on calling Geoana/the PSD "left leaning" or "leftist". This is, to put it mildly, utter bollocks. The PSD are "leftist" in as much as they are made up of the old Communist party, but in any actual policy or ideas or ideology or approaches are a right wing party (with a populist streak thrown in) - to give an example, they are vehemently anti-minority, which is hardly a "leftist" position to take. Even the economic policies they espouse are basically right wing ones. So if you see a report that refers to them as "leftist" I suggest you flick v-signs at the TV or radio or newspaper which is parroting this utterly false line.
In any sane society the PSD and its apparatchiks would have vanished long ago. Corrupt, power-crazed, with a mafia-like grip over many communities. But it is just that apparatus left over from when they were all Ceausescu's mates (before they saw which way the wind was blowing and staged an internal coup under the guise of a national revolution), which has left them so strong. Many parts of the country are still very much under the grip of the local PSD office, through which all power, money and influence flows. Hence getting rid of them is incredibly difficult. Floating over this whole structure is the shadowy vampiric figure of Ion Iliescu, Ceausescu's one-time heir apparent who had fallen out of favour with the dictator, but who came back to lead the so-called revolution and subsequently occupy the Presidency for 11 of the 20 years since then. Geoana paints himself as a reformer of the PSD, but nobody really believes much has changed.
Over the last couple of days I had started to hope that maybe. just maybe, Crin Antonescu of the PNL would get enough votes to enter the second round which would at least have left people with a real possibility of something new. It was not to be however, and the PSD obviously did a good job of getting out their vote (their heartland seems to be in the rural counties of the south, most of which got higher than average turnout). There were also many cases of reported fraud, with some people being bussed from place to place to vote more than once, some dead people voting, and other cases of votes being bought.
The one positive that comes from this election is that the turnout was much higher than expected - dire predictions of 20-30% turnout were suggested but in the end the count was over 50%. Not exactly massive, but at least reasonable (and we can assume that the vast majority of these people only voted once and were actually alive and stuff). This in a country that is in such an incredible mess that, for example, my daughter will have a three day holiday from school this and next week because the government is forcing all public sector employees (including teachers) to take 10 days unpaid holiday this year to save money. When even the education of the next generation is being sacrificed by politicians, you know things are bad.
Now the horse trading begins, with both remaining candidates trying to pick up the votes that went to the others. Logically Antonescu's 20% ought to go to Basescu as those two candidates occupy similar ground politically, but with Basescu screwing the PNL over a fair few times in the recent past, there may be a doubt there. The far-right nationalist vote of Vadim Tudor and Becali (about 6% between them) will presumably go to Geoana. The Hungarians will vote (those who bother to show up) for Basescu, because while they have found him untrustworthy and that he's done absolutely nothing for the Hungarian minority in his 5 years in power, he's also not enacted policies that are specifically anti-Hungarian, while the assumption is that Geoana would. Basescu's real problem is that he's become quite a divisive figure, and it could be that those who will vote for him, already have, and those that haven't, won't.
I hope it goes to Basescu, but only on the basis that he's better than the alternative, not because I have any faith in his abilities. We now have two weeks of being reminded how bankrupt the country not only financially but also politically.
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