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Bucharest
January 28, 2021
EDITORIAL

Electoral-judicial campaign

It can be said that, at this moment, all candidacy lanes for city halls and for Bucharest’s district mayoralties are free and ready to receive new “political athletes” ready to take part in what I would now call the “electoral-judicial campaign.”

Neculai Ontanu (photo), one of the longest-serving and redoubtable mayors and politicians in Romania is leaving the stage in a spectacular but far from surprising or shocking manner.

Neculai Ontanu represents nothing but a key of the chronic need for the changing of the political class, which all Romanians are poignantly aware of since last November. However, a need that in reality has been present for a very long time and which had an extremely well outlined route, on a careful scrutiny of the line of previous political events.

Why is Neculai Ontanu becoming a landmark for the way in which the current political class not only started to fall apart at a speedy rhythm, but also gained an important trait, as obvious as it is unseen by those who are not looking at politics with the eye of the connoisseur?

It was always known that district mayoralties and the Bucharest City Hall represent the compass that sets the tone in all that is called local elections. In reality, things are exactly the opposite.

Because the elections in the rest of the country’s localities, the places where the fiefdoms of the most powerful politicians – also known as barons – are located, are in fact the key to political success and especially the key to the empowerment and strengthening of party structures and, in particular, of every political leader of these structures.

Moreover, when it comes to electoral battle, local elections prevail over parliamentary ones. Both in terms of scale, weight and political effects on the long and very long term, and the way in which political power will be taken over and distributed among the state’s important structures.

The fact that a great part of the mayors at the top of the administrative and political hierarchies are under proven or in the process of being proven criminal incidence, represents the first important sign in relation to what is going on at the very heart of the political class. Her parties.

That is why I said that the arrest of Neculai Ontanu, whose typology and profile is the benchmark of these political administrative elites throughout the country, brings under the limelight the way in which things are in fact taking place now, on the verge of the official start of the local elections campaign. While at the same time pointing out how the parties on the political spectrum have or no longer have the chance of regaining power in the next four years and in what way will the Left and the Right divide this power.

Because Neculai Ontanu, even more so than Gabriel Oprea, is the fundamental image of a certain part (consistent in fact) of the political class.

And looking now, on Saturday to be specific, on the way in which things went within UNPR at the meeting for the election of a new party leader, the picture is rounded off and confirms, on the go, not a theory but a reality. The complete and final anarchization of the Left. There is anarchy on the Left, just like there is complete silence and emptiness on the Right. Because, if the tragedy was not complete on Gabriel Oprea’s theatrical departure from the political stage, Oprea’s departure having Ontanu as a real and efficient substitute, now, with Ontanu’s exit, the tragedy is joined by the parody fully outlined on the occasion of the election of the new UNPR President.

At this moment, the picture of important candidacies at local level, both in the capital and in the rest of the country, looks not only stark, but especially extremely unnatural.  An example with which I believe I can fully underscore what I want to say is Ms. Gabriela Vranceanu Firea’s candidacy for the Bucharest City Hall. Apparently, amidst this whole crisis and political dissolutions that have caused and continue to case ravages from the Right to the Left and back, a presence such as the one abovementioned would give the impression of “a breath of fresh air,” of purifying political bath through two elements that have been circulated at the level of the political mental construction of all parties. Namely, promoting the female element in politics, as piece of resistance and guarantor of renewal and of a different political vision and a promise to convert masculine political power, dominant in the last decades, into a force that would veritably bring about something entirely new, different and closer to what people need and want.

In reality however, a figure such as that of Ms. Firea, present at this moment in the elections campaign, serves only to finally undermine any possibility not only of winning but also of renewal. The reasons are more than obvious. I don’t have to detail them here. Because both Neculai Ontanu and Ms. Firea are the two sides of the same coin. Not to mention the rest of the figures brandished on the current electoral market, which verge on hilarity, sadness and the gravity of the situation.

Could it be just a temporary crisis of political inspiration or, in fact, all these figures serve only to underscore (if still needed!) the immense crisis of real political solutions and an obvious and serious inability of all Romanian political parties of the day – and I believe this time definitive – to postpone the denouement.

Namely, that you no longer have anything new to offer to people that no longer want you and no longer believe anything of what you could reinvent about yourself.

And what really matters beyond all this façade remains the idea of thinking very carefully about the fact that there is a month left and that, officially, this whole circus will become our option for at least the next four years.

Politicians will always find an excuse or a solution for themselves, irrespective of what those will be, and present it to us (of course, as being the best). But, in our immediate reality, these excuses and solutions have turned out to be, every time, throughout the years, not only inefficient, but absolutely parallel with the interest of every Romanian.

I believe the time has come for Romanians, in their turn, to come out of isolation, effectively asking politicians to explain to them who the people they always present to us really are and why they are presented as being the best option for us.

Moreover, I believe the moment has come for us to understand that the example of Neculai Ontanu, a man that kept for four terms one of the most important mayoralties in the country (and could have continued to do so, Ontanu being fully endorsed by a great part of District 2 voters) and who, from the office of mayor, managed to do extremely serious things that now, at last and not fully, have started to be revealed, can be an extremely valuable clue and at the same time an alarm for us about what will happen to those we do not know in any way but who will surely want to end up being at least as powerful and important as Neculai Ontanu.

And in closing, I would like to ask a single question:

Is a mayor’s negative retirement from an electoral race really the end of the influence he and the political area whose member he is has?

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