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August 15, 2022

Electoral paradoxes and dilemmas

There are a few more days left until Romanians will be present at the ballots again to choose the new president that will represent their interests for the next five years. For me, as well as for many of the people who earned at the Revolution of 1989 the democratic right of expressing their options at the ballot box, it will be the seventh time when I will enter the voting booth in order to place the stamp on the name of my preferred candidate.

Yet, this time, I will personally have an issue and, pretty sure, I will not be the only one with this kind of concern. Although the electoral offer is pretty complex for these presidential elections, as well, as no less than fourteen candidates are running for the highest position in the state, I cannot but obsess on the famous question and dilemma formulated so eloquently by Caragiale, more suitable now than ever before: “Who am I voting for?”

Certainly, I already have an option and, probably, if nothing scandalous and compromising appears on the name of my favourite candidate during the final days of this troubled electoral campaign, I will be definitely granting him my vote by placing my stamp on his name on the massive ballot papers with fourteen checkable boxes.

My issue is, though, that my chosen candidate does not convince me totally that he will be the best president for my country, for the next five years, supposing that he will be elected and will only be leading the state for one term.

In my opinion, my favourite in this obstacle race defined already by this inflation of competitors has plenty of obvious qualities that create a difference to his competitors. Yet, he has plenty of weak points as well.

Actually, if I think about it better, I have experienced the same concern and conscience issue at the preceding elections for the position at Cotroceni, all of them defined by such inflations of candidates, that would be proper for a tribal republic. In 1996, there were sixteen candidates running for the head of the state, in 2000, there were twelve attending the competition, in 2004, there were other twelve and the same number was registered in 2009.

Except for the presidential elections of 1990 and 1992, when the democratic choice of the head of the state followed other rules and rigours, we must say, because those were the initial “fresh” years of democracy after so many years of dictatorship, the remaining five presidential campaigns, including the latest one, due on November 2, have, as one may easily establish, this common   feature. An uncommon high number of contenders, in total contradiction with poor presidential programs and offers (most of them).

Yet, despite of the number, and of the variety of the electoral offer, the famous quote on elections from the work of the great Romanian author and dramatist Ion Luca Caragiale from his referential theatre play “A Lost Letter” (1884), when a confused and misguided citizen was rhetorically asking the question “I am drunk, sure, but… Who should I vote for?” was and continues being valid.

With obvious visionary abilities, the great author, a refined observer and a connoisseur of the specifics and the behaviour of the political class that lived 130 years ago, anticipated in his work the doubt and confusion that will be always encountered by the Romanian voter, regardless of the historical age the voting was taking place in, regardless of the complexity of the electoral offer attending the competition, regardless of the electoral speeches of candidates, beautifully packaged in promises that are often exaggerated and seem inspired by science-fiction screenplays that have nothing to do with reality, promises that are instantly forgotten once the elections are over.

Therefore, the question “Who am I voting for is as valid in 2014 as it was so far. And, just as I said before, this dilemma torments me genuinely, just as it concerns and challenges the conscience of other voters, too.

Actually, at a second thought, this time, I would vote without any hesitation, but not for my favourite candidate. Certainly, he will not be the perfect president for Romania. The ideal choice for Romania, at this time, after Traian Basescu’s two terms totalizing ten years, would be a person endowed with a combination of the qualities of the fourteen competitors attending this obstacle race right now.

Undoubtedly, Traian Basescu did have qualities in exercising his attributions as head of the state. He had merits and plenty of achievements that were and still are profitable for Romania. Yet, Basescu was a conflict-raising president who never hesitated to fight during his times (mostly during his television appearances in primetime and using a language that was totally improper for the head of a state) with his political adversaries, with the Prime Minister (the only one he did not struggle with was Emil Boc), with the Parliament, with the press and so one. As for the attributions of the Romanian president as regulated by the Constitution, which stipulates that the head of the state is an element of balance and mediation in society, Mr. Basescu seemed to do anything he could to violate this status, as he violated the Constitution as well, many time. With such a history, he was frequently accused that, if he has no conflict, he invents it.

After a president of such nature, the new one I wish for the chair in Cotroceni on December 22 should have the following qualities, that would obviously improve Romania’s image: trustworthiness and visibility both internally and abroad, leading to better political stability and normal relations between the Cotroceni and Victoria Palaces, between the President and the Parliament, and creating a general climate that will grant institutions and the powers of the state the ground to perform their duties, without live appearances on TV and veiled hints to Justice from the head of the state.

Maturity, responsibility, wisdom, outstanding diplomatic abilities, experience gained from exercising competencies acquired by other public positions of responsibility, elegance in language and attitude, dignity, morality, a spotless past (his own and that of his family), balance, energy, youth, enthusiasm, fairness and equity, a self-confidence that would inspire respect, the permanent concern that the interests of the country would be placed higher than any personal, party or group interest: these are the qualities that I would passionately wish for my future president, the qualities that would make him the best president in Romania, the president I would vote for with my eyes closed and with an open heart. My favourite candidate for these elections only has some of these qualities and so to the rest of the candidates.

Now, unfortunately, it would be impossible for Romania to have such a president, a president it would fully deserve after all these troubled years. Not even the most experienced magician or sorcerer, regardless of his skills or magic powers, would be able to perform a wonder and to pull out of his magic hat a president endowed with all these gifts and qualities that add up those of the fourteen persons running now for the Presidential elections, so that he would grant Romania a dignified reign, as deserved by this country.

Therefore, the question “Who am I voting for” will obsess us for one more election, and once the chosen one is installed and starts making mistakes in obvious contradiction with his promises, all of us will experience further disappointment and the regret of having placed the stamp, or not, on the same of the person disappointing us, or for not being there to vote in the case of us who decided to abstain.

Yet, I hope with all my heart that this will be the last election that would make the Romanian voter ask himself: “Who am I voting for?” and that those of us who kept asking this question again and again would be the last sacrificial generation from this point of view.

And I hope from the bottom of my heart that my son and his generation, who will have the age and the right to vote for the next elections, and thus, will be able for the first time to choose his president, will not encounter this dilemma that tormented us so many times, as none of the fourteen offer supplies us all we need. I hope they will have SOMEBODY to vote for. I hope that my son and his generation, after gaining the right to vote, will be able to pass the candidates through their most refined personal filters and will never have to regret their choices, as we, the sacrificial generation, did many times; I hope that they will always be proud of the president they choose to dignifiedly lead their country. Obviously, this can only happen if they do not decide to leave the country, as many young people in Romania do, and build their future somewhere else, disappointed by the lack of perspectives their home country has to offer.





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