Irinel Columbeanu to run for Mayor of Bucharest, starts campaign

The businessman says two of his strengths in the race for the office of general mayor are ‘a bit of intelligence’ and his political non-affiliation.

On Tuesday January 3, businessman Irinel Columbeanu (photo) announced his intention to stand for election as mayor of Bucharest as an independent candidate in the local election to take place this year. ‘As a regular inhabitant of Bucharest without interruption for the last 52 years I have the courage to join the competition hoping to obtain from you the confidence necessary to be the general mayor of the capital city for the next our years,’ Mediafax quotes Columbeanu as saying in a short video posted on the internet. He later on explained on Realitatea TV that he wanted to transform Bucharest into ‘a centre of clean business.’

‘I don’t believe the stray dogs are among the priorities of the people of Bucharest. However, they are one of the problems that need to be dealt with humanly, not savagely. The biggest problem belongs to us, all the inhabitants of Bucharest and, from that point of view, the best solution would be to cooperate with friends of ours from other countries. It’s not necessarily about a physical twinning, but more about connecting ourselves to the economic circuits that bring benefits to municipalities, establishing links with more advanced cities,’ he also said.

Irinel Columbeanu is the owner of companies operating in fields such as constructions and communications. His name was a tabloid front-pager for several weeks following his divorce from Monica Gabor (former Columbeanu) and the scandal with the custody of their daughter Irina.

Columbeanu’s announcement about his possible candidacy for mayor of Bucharest has been received with smiles by his prospective opponents from PDL and PSD. PDL Vice-President Theodor Paleologu says Columbeanu may have a chance with ‘a certain public.’

However, the ex-culture minister said he still wanted to run for the office for PDL. ‘I have no comment to make about Irinel Columbeanu’s candidacy. Nicusor Dan (President of the ‘Save Bucharest’ Association – our note) continues to be the only declared candidate to my taste,’ Paleologu said, according to Mediafax. ‘Anyone over 18 has the right to stand for election unless there is a court decision that restricts such right,’ was the only comment made by PDL MP Silviu Prigoana, one of the people competing in the internal PDL race to be nominated a candidate.

District 5 Mayor Marian Vanghelie (PSD) says Irinel Columbeanu’s possible candidacy in Bucharest was a normal thing and that it’s preferable to have as many candidates as possible.

On the other hand, sociologist Vasile Dancu (PSD) and Traian Rotariu believe the emergence of candidates for public offices in the 2012 elections from the tabloid affairs reflects the level of development of the Romanian political class and people’s distrust in politicians. ‘(…) The electoral year 2012 could bring the surprise that traditional parties will start having problems with this kind of candidates coming from the foggy area of vulgarity and tabloid news (…) They don’t have chances to major positions, Irinel Columbeanu will not be elected mayor of the capital, yet they will dig breaches in the system and could enter institutions such as local councils or even the parliament. There will be a dilution of politics with such characters,’ Dancu said.

Videanu not excluding new candidacy for Bucharest

On the other hand, former Capital Mayor Adriean Videanu said on Realitatea TV, on Tuesday, that the subject of his candidacy for mayor of Bucharest ‘wasn’t current’, but did not reject the possibility of such thing happening, noting that he only wished to participate in the public debate in order to clarify residual suspicions in connection with his latest term.

‘It is not a current subject (his candidacy – our note), but I can honestly tell you that I feel proud and happy that everything that has happened in Bucharest in the last 22 years bears the hallmark of PD or PDL,’ realitatea.net quotes Videanu as saying.

Apart from Silviu Prigoana, Theodor Paleologu and Cristian Canacheu, another possible candidate in the internal PDL race for the nomination is PDL MEP Cristian Preda who told RFI yesterday that he wasn’t going to step aside from the battle for Bucharest. He thinks the party ‘should first announce the candidate and not the polls!’ In his view, sitting Mayor Sorin Oprescu ‘has a solid position in opinion polls because he has no opponent’. ‘Naturally, he (Oprescu – our note) is doing well in opinion polls as long as no one tells him where he was wrong, if no one comes to challenge his projects,’ Preda also said.

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