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September 20, 2020

Sorin Oprescu’s political ambitions

Surgeon Sorin Oprescu has started his political career with the Social Democratic Party (PSD), by running for this party two times, unsuccessfully, for General Mayor of Bucharest. Nonetheless, victories have only came after he started running as an independent, criticising the entire political class and being seen as a permanent possible candidate to Presidency, an analysis performed by Mediafax showed.
With a political presentation that was always acclaimed by crowds, Oprescu has permanently enjoyed the support of voters and opinion polls have quasi-permanently positioned him as a politician with a high rate of trust from behalf of the population.
In PSD, Sorin Oprescu was soon known as Ion Iliescu’s close companion. He soon gained top positions in the party, and even became the President of the Bucharest branch in 2006. He did not spend too much time in this position though as he unsuccessfully ran for the presidency of the party in the same year. He lost to Mircea Geoana, which determined him to resign his position in PSD management.
Sorin Oprescu is at this time completing his second term as an elected General Mayor of Bucharest. In 2008, he has become the first independent General Mayor of Romania’s Capital. “I want to tell Bucharesters that they have made a great choice! (…) This Whit Sunday will remain in the history of Bucharest and Romania, for many years, as one of the most beautiful days”, Sorin Oprescu declared in 2008, following his victory against Vasile Blaga, while being loudly acclaimed by his crowd of fans.
During his 2000-2004 term in the Parliament, Sorin Oprescu has been the Vice-President of the Health Committee in the Senate. He won a new term as a PSD member in the elections of 2004, yet, in 2008, he left the party in order to run once again for the Mayoralty of Bucharest, this time as an independent. His departure from the party had stirred controversy at that time. PSD had decided to support Cristian Diaconescu as their candidate to the Mayoralty and Miron Mitrea, the campaign manager of Social-Demcrats, has expressed his fear that Oprescu’s entrance in the competition would affect PSD voters more than the one of the opposition. Ion Iliescu revealed though his support for Oprescu, by declaring that his departure from the party is a loss to PSD. “I stick by Oprescu in my soul. He is a valuable person and politician”, the honorary president of PSD had declared at that time.

In the spring of 2008, Sorin Oprescu gained his first term as Bucharest’s Mayor, defeating Vasile Blaga (PD-L) and Cristian Diaconescu (PSD). Oprescu has stirred several waves of controversy during his term as a Mayor, by promising, even during his electoral campaign, that he would build a suspended highway that would connect Northern Bucharest to the Southern regions of the city. Sorin Oprescu has also finished Basarab Passage, an investment that started during Traian Basescu’s term. The passage was inaugurated by Sorin Oprescu by a plaque that gained wide media attention at that time, as it said: “Started by Basescu and finished by Oprescu”. Also, during his first term, the National Stadium was built, now known as the National Arena.

Despite of having just won the Mayoralty of Bucharest in 2008, after his third attempt, Oprescu also ran as an independent candidate for President of Romania, in 2009. He only reached the sixth position though, behind Traian Basescu, Mircea Geoana, Crin Antonescu, C.V. Tudor and Kelemen Hunor, gaining a little over 3 per cent of the votes. His candidacy came as a surprise, as, in July, in the same year, Oprescu had declared that he had had no intention to leave the Mayoralty of Bucharest. “I do not intend to announce running for the elections of November. I have promised something to the citizens of this city and I have to keep my promises”, the Mayor had declared at that time. In the media of those days, there were speculations of negotiations concerning Oprescu’s return to PSD, so that he would run for President from behalf of the party. One of the supporters of this idea was, allegedly, the honorary President of PSD Ion Iliescu. The rumours had appeared under the circumstances of deteriorated relations between PSD leader Mircea Geoana and Iliescu.

Despite his own statements, Oprescu still announced his candidacy in October, justifying his decision by the wrong direction followed by the country, due to political class. He entered this competition as an independent, once again after PSD decided to support Mircea Geoana. “The time has come that we speak about independence. Mine, ours, everyone’s independence. My candidacy is an appeal to independence. We have the right to be independent, without any control by political parties. We need unity, consensus, national reconciliation”, Oprescu had declared at that time.
Following his victory in the local elections of 2012, when he won his second term as Mayors of Bucharest, rumours have restarted regarding Oprescu once again running for President, supported by PSD. Public statements by the Mayor did not deny this possibility, and he preserved the mystery regarding his potential candidacy. “I learned to say ‘no’ at the end of 40. After turning 40, I discovered that, usually, no one brings you anything; so, if you can bring yourself what you need, to satisfy your heart and mind, it is perfect. If you do not, if you feel you cannot do it any longer, you better go home, so I am not looking forward to any proposal, I have to do what I have to do, and perhaps, one day, I might take into account this matter as well, I am telling you, but it stays between us”, Oprescu had declared in 2013.

As elections were coming, Oprescu changed his approach: “I am not going anywhere to be anyone’s bunny. It is not lack of determination; if it will be the case and if I have all elements, yes, I will go”, Oprescu declared in July, asked about the possibility of a candidacy. Oprescu had even decided whom he would appoint as Prime Minister if he was elected for Cotroceni Palace, and had mentioned Victor Ponta’s name. Yet, at that time, the Mayor also pointed out that he would only run if he was supported by PSD and “Social-Democrat people”.
After presidential elections, not attended by him finally, Oprescu started making plans for the local elections of 2016. “I will run if I feel that people are treating me the same way, after taking Bucharest’s pulse. Do not forget that I am a doctor and that I am familiar with people’s reactions. If the electorate wants it, I will obey”, Oprescu declared in July 2015.

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