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Vol 2, No 41
27 November 2000
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News from Romania News from

All the important news
since 18 November 2000

Catherine and
David Lovatt


Election day: Sunday 26 November 2000

The Romanian presidential and parliamentary elections are to take place on Sunday 26 November. Apart from voting for a new president, Romanians will be choosing their representatives to sit in the two chambers of parliament. Throughout the week the press has been filled with statements, propaganda and diatribes. The final opinion poll has been published—now it is up to the people.

Polling stations are to be manned by members of the Romanian Gendarmerie Force and Police Department to ensure that Sunday's election takes place without any problems. They will also be responsible for the secure and safe transportation of ballot boxes to the constituency centres and then onto the Central Electoral Bureau (BEC) in Bucharest.

The BEC has accredited 10,492 observers for polling stations in Bucharest and throughout the country while 82 observers from the international community have also received accreditation.


Election: assertions and allegations

According to Béla Markó, leader of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR), his party should prepare for opposition. He said, "We cannot accept the role of a shop window party and we cannot sacrifice our future only in order to receive some offices and a minimum chance to change some aspects in the life of the Hungarian community in Romania." (EvZ, 22 November 2000)

Prime Minister and Independent candidate Mugur Isârescu, speaking during an election meeting, said "Cotroceni must not change into a circus and this is why an independent president is needed. A professional president does not nod his head, he understands everything." (Nine o'clock, 21 November 2000)

Factory workers in Braşov shouted "Iliescu, we will vote for you to save Romania from ruins," (Reuters, 22 November 2000) as they were addressed by the Party for Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) leader.

The rise in popularity of Corneliu Vadim Tudor of the Greater Romania Party (PRM) has led to a concerted attack on him by candidates and media alike. EvZ has listed quotes from Tudor which talk of violence, liquidation and extreme nationalism which targets Roma, Hungarians, and Jews. Tudor is reported as supporting forced labour camps and calling for the army to fight back against society's riffraff. Nine o'clock on 23 November reported Tudor as saying, "If PRM comes to power, there will be public executions in stadiums just like in China."

Theodor Stolojan of the National Liberal Party (PNL) believes that Romania's president should be the head of government after the model of the United States. He said that the president "should be a common man with systematic thinking." (Nine o'clock, 21 November 2000)

The Democratic Party (PD) have said that their leader, Petre Roman, is preparing to sue Corneliu Vadim Tudor as a result of slanderous statements he made during a televised election broadcast. Roman is also thought to be ready to take action about articles printed in the journals Romania Mare and Politica, both owned by Tudor. In a live television debate on the TVR channel Tudor shouted at Roman, "You are Romania's biggest gangster! Your father was a KGB officer!" (Nine o'clock, 23 November 2000)


Presidential election: the final polls

The last opinion polls of the election campaign were published this week. Although Ion Iliescu (PDSR) retained first place in the race for the presidency, his lead had been reduced. He is shown as attaining 40 per cent of the vote by one poll and 35 per cent by another. Analysts have suggested that Iliescu's popularity has been affected by the populist message of extreme right-wing candidate Corneliu Vadim Tudor of PRM.

Even so, the polls were still divided as to how they perceived the candidate who would take second place. An IMAS poll showed Tudor in a clear second place with 19 per cent of the poll. In contrast, a Social Research Bureau (BCS) poll shows prime minister and Independent candidate Isârescu in second place by a narrow margin. The other candidate striving for second place, Theodor Stolojan of the National Liberal Party (PNL), is shown third in both polls.

An IRECSON poll, which was published on Thursday, reflected the level of support for Iliescu which was evident in the polls from earlier in the week, but gave a strong second place to Isârescu. Tudor's support was shown to have dropped by a clear five points. This poll suggested, however, that if the second ballot, to be held on 10 December, was between Iliescu and Isârescu, it was possible that the current prime minister would win by the smallest of margins.


Parliamentary elections: the final polls

Both the IMAS and the BCS polls give a clear and commanding lead to the PDSR, and both show the PRM holding a distant second place with about 15 per cent of the vote. The PRM are closely followed by the PNL in both polls.

The reconstituted Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR-2000) and the PD have fluctuating fortunes in both polls, while the UDMR maintains a steady seven per cent. From one point of view these figures are meaningless, as the polls reveal that 26 per cent of the population are as yet undecided on how to cast their votes.


Elections: the Secret Police files

The National Council for the Study of Securitate Archives (CNSAS) investigation into those standing for office in the elections showed that 38 candidates had an involvement with the Securitate, the secret police of the former Communist regime. Two of those named worked directly for the Securitate, 19 were identified as collaborators and 17 as informers.

Of those named, nine were candidates representing CDR-2000 and four were seeking election on the PDSR ticket. Two PNL candidates were named, one of whom was Mircea Ionescu Quintus, the PNL president, who is contesting the findings.

Questions have been raised as to Ion Iliescu's involvement in the activities of the Securitate. During the Communist era it is believed that Iliescu was First Secretary of the Romanian Communist Party in Iaşi and as such co-ordinated the work of the local Securitate.

Gheorghe Onisoru, president of CNSAS, said "the activity of the Securitate Inspectorate Iaşi during the period 1974 to 1979 cannot be investigated without a long term-effort." (Monitorul, 24 November 2000) He added that the results that are being published now cannot be considered to be reflecting a full and complete investigation.


And finally...

Prime Minister Isârescu had some good news to announce on Wednesday—news that may improve his standing in the polls. He declared that the national minimum wage would be raised from USD 28 to USD 40 for a 170 hour working month—the equivalent of USD 0.23 per hour.

Unfortunately for the prime minister, bad news followed. The Ministry of Social Protection and Labour reported October's unemployment figures. A total of 10.1 per cent of the workforce of 9.5 million were out of work. Women made up 48 per cent of those who were unemployed. The unemployment figure indicates a slight rise from September's figure of 9.9 per cent.

Catherine Lovatt and David Lovatt,
24 November 2000

Moving on:


Evenimentul zilei/EvZ online
Agence France-Presse
Associated Press
Nine o'clock


Clark and Prekevičius
Voting in Lithuania

Sam Vaknin
Kicking the Habit

Bernard Nežmah
Yugoslav Obscenities

Mel Huang
Terrorism in Latvia

Yuri Svirko
Press Security

Brian J Požun
Minorities in Vojvodina

The Roma

Balázs Jarábik
Slovakia's Minority Policy

Tiffany G Petros
Roma Rights

Marius Dragomir
Europe's Beggars

Peter Vermeersch
A Bad Reputation

Matilda Nahabedian
Bulgaria's Tolerance

Gusztáv Kosztolányi
Radio Roma

Asylum-seeking Fallout

Katharine Fletcher
Ignoring the Problem

Wojtek Kość
Learning History

Roma on Film
James Partridge
Skupljači perja

Niobe Thompson
Gadjo dilo

Peter Hames
Contemporary Czech Film

Christina Manetti
Polish Fiction

Rob Stout
E H Carr

Brian J Požun
Shedding the Balkan Skin

Martin D Brown
Czech Historical Amnesia

Dejan Anastasijević (ed)
Out of Time

Gusztáv Kosztolányi
Hungarian Oil Scandal

Sam Vaknin
After the Rain

The Arts:
Catherine Lovatt
Body of a Woman

Press Reviews:
Oliver Craske
The EU's Army

Andrea Mrozek
Discussing Dayton


Mixed Nuts

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