‘One of the most important polls’
Traian Basescu and his wife and younger daughter cast their ballots at Bucharest’s A.D. Xenopol High School yesterday morning. The presidential family voted both in the referendum and for head of state. After casting his ballot, Basescu said Sunday’s vote was one of the most important, because it gives Romanians the possibility to tell Parliament how to work and to elect their president.
The head of state labeled the vote as “an extraordinary exercise of power” and voiced conviction that Romanians will come in large numbers to exercise “their sovereignty to their own interest.” The unicameral Parliament referendum was called by Basescu, who has repeatedly pleaded in favour of a slimmer legislative assembly, with 300 lawmakers at most, down from the current 471, but was heavily criticized by the civil society and the media. For a public referendum to be considered valid, at least 50 per cent of registered voters have to cast their ballot.
PM Boc and the leader of the Democrat Liberal Party, which supports Basescu in the poll, said after casting his ballot in Cluj that he voted for a “common sense Parliament” and a president “who will continue to be able to give Romania back to Romanians.” “It’s an important day in the lives of Romanians, an important day for Romanian democracy, we have a referendum to modernize Parliament and we have to choose a president who will shape out Romania’s destiny in the next five years,” Boc said.
PM designate Liviu Negoita, Basescu’s second appointment on the job, also said he voted for an “honest president and a more efficient Parliament,” while acting Tourism and Environment Minister Elena Udrea voiced hope that “we will continue changes, with the same president.”
‘Time to focus on what truly matters’
Mircea Geoana and his wife cast their ballot at Bucharest’s Jean Monnet High School as well. The PSD candidate voted both for president and in the referendum, underlining that he has been in favor of reducing the number of lawmakers since 2005. “After five years of scandal, the Romanian people has the power to decide. It’s time to focus on things that truly matter, such as fighting the crisis, re-launching jobs and the industry,” he said. Geoana also thanked the media and NGOs for their vigilance and support in the fight against massive fraud attempts and called on authorities to do everything possible to assure a fair voting process.
The PSD leader also voiced hope that Romanians will come to cast their vote, underlining that the stake of the election goes beyond people or parties. “It’s about what Romania will look like in the next 20 years,” he said.
Ex president Ion Iliescu, honorary leader of the PSD, voted only in the presidential election, saying that the referendum was “a whim and a diversion” staged by President Basescu. “I shared NGO’s opinion that this referendum is useless. (…) It has no consequence because any change must go through Parliament, so it’s only a diversion in the election campaign,” Iliescu said. When asked to comment on the fact Geoana voted in the referendum, Iliescu said, “it’s his business.”
As for whom he voted for president, Iliescu seemed to have a moment of hesitation when asked, as he replied, “For Basesc… For Geoana.”
A vote for a different Romania
Crin Antonescu, Liberal leader and presidential runner came to the ballot station together with his wife, MEP Adina Valean, and Liberal leaders Ludovic Orban and Norica Nicolai. After casting his vote, Antonescu told reporters that he voted for “something I’ve been expecting for five years and some of us, even for 20 years: a real, profound change, another way of doing politics, another way of living in Romanian society, for a different Romania.”
Another prominent Liberal figure, businessman Dinu Patriciu, voted only in the presidential poll, refusing to vote in the referendum, which he labeled “nonsense and electoral provocation.”
Former President Emil Constantinescu also voted for “a real change” yesterday. Constantinescu, who has supported Antonescu in this election, said that this poll was the first time in 13 years that Romanians “have the opportunity to choose not from the least of evils, but to choose the good.” The former president refused to vote in the referendum, saying it was useless.
Sibiu Mayor Klaus Iohannis, the opposition’s choice for PM and generally seen as a supporter of Liberal doctrines, refused to vote in the referendum too. He only cast his ballot in the presidential poll, saying he voted “for normality.”
Oprescu, the first to vote
Sorin Oprescu, the first presidential runner to cast his ballot, was Bucharest General Mayor , who ran as an independent. Oprescu, who was ranked fourth in the polls, said he voted for change and “for the first truly independent president of our democracy.” He added that he voted in the referendum as well, but refused to provide other details.
Kelemen Hunor, the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania’s candidate cast his ballot in Miercurea Ciuc and said he voted for “change into good” and for reform of “this hyper-centralised state.” Kelemen added that he voted in the referendum as he had previously promised: by saying ‘no’ to both questions. UDMR leader Marko Bela also voted ‘no’ in the referendum and confirmed that his presidential ballot went to Kelemen.
Gigi Becali, the new Generation Party’s candidate went to cast his vote only to discover that he had left his ID at home. While waiting for somebody to bring him the ID, Becali told reporters that he wants to win as many votes as possible, to enter the runoff or to be able “to negotiate”. He added that in the runoff, he will support Basescu’s rival, whoever that will be, in order to rid the country of “tyranny.”
Corneliu Vadim Tudor, Greater Romania Party’s candidate voted in the presidential poll, but not in the referendum, saying that he did not want the referendum to be validated. “I don’t like masquerades. (…) Not to mention the fact that this is only a diversion by Traian Basescu. (…) I want to show him my contempt,” Vadim Tudor said.
‘One of the most important polls’