Mircea Geoana stated on Tuesday, before the parliamentary committee of inquiry into the presidential elections of 2009, that the Parliament’s initiative represents “an act of democratic hygiene,” considering that the result of the elections shows it was an attempt to perpetuate “a system of force, of blackmail and political corruption.”
“I’ve promptly answered your invitation and request. I’m aware of the constraints and obligations of each citizen who is summoned before Parliament to clarify the truth and the whole truth that lies within the reach of each of us, namely in my capacity as protagonist, one of the protagonists of the 2009 elections. It’s regrettable that so many years had to pass for such an overture to be made. (…) Recent circumstantial elements had to appear to trigger this democratic mechanism. I consider that this committee represents more than just a simple political gesture or historical reparation. Persons or politics aside, I believe it’s an act of democratic hygiene and an investment in a better future for Romania and for Romanians,” Mircea Geoana stated.
He added that the result of the 2009 presidential elections shows that there was “an attempt to perpetuate a system of force, of power, of blackmail and political corruption.”
“In my opinion, and it’s an opinion in which subjective and objective elements mix, I believe we can say there are reasonable suspicions pointing to the existence of some constituted elements of a deliberate and conjugated effort, coordinated from the highest level of the Romanian state, to influence the 2009 elections. It’s about an attempt to perpetuate a system of force, of power, of blackmail, of political and economic corruption, with grave consequences on the general state of the nation and on the general interests of Romania’s citizens,” Mircea Geoana, candidate in the 2009 presidential elections, emphasised.
Geoana pointed out that “the 2009 action had an inter-institutional and cross-party character, lining up under a single command obedient leaders, not institutions in their totality, indecisive politicians, careerists or blackmailable persons from key areas of the country’s political and administrative system.”
“We are talking about persons, not institutions. (…) The 2009-2014 [presidential] term was immoral, anti-democratic and anti-national,” Mircea Geoana added.
Hrebenciuc: I suspect 2009 elections were defrauded in polling stations that registered over 1,050 votes. PSD representatives did not challenge it out of tiredness
Viorel Hrebenciuc, PSD’s former chief of campaign during the 2009 presidential elections, told the committee of inquiry on Tuesday that he believes the elections were rigged because there were polling stations where more than 1,050 persons voted in 14 hours, which he deems impossible. Asked why this was not challenged back when the official reports were drafted, Hrebenciuc blamed it on the PSD representatives within the polling stations being “tired.”
At the hearings, Viorel Hrebenciuc stated that during the week before the runoff Mircea Geoana was credited with 54 percent in the polls, while Traian Basescu was credited with 46 percent, this meaning PSD had a lead of 600,000 votes. Indirectly, he pointed out things changed after the last televised debate, when Geoana was faced with information about his visit to businessman Sorin Ovidiu Vintu.
Hrebenciuc on meeting at Oprea’s in 2009: One couldn’t influence elections from the living room, not at that hour
“What followed was the known episode that Thursday – I won’t go into details – which resulted in the voter turnout being 800,000 voters higher than in the first round, something that is not very common in elections. (…) The last opinion poll we had that Saturday evening, with approximately 12,000 respondents – which means a margin of error of less than 1.5 percent –, gave Geoana 51.5 percent to [Basescu’s] 48.5 percent. Only 1.5 percent; clearly it alarmed us,” Hrebenciuc said.
He was interrupted by lawmakers, who wanted to know what polling institute carried out for PSD an opinion poll with 12,000 respondents, a number four times higher than that of regular opinion polls, and particularly a poll that was processed so quickly.
“I won’t disclose my sources,” Hrebenciuc answered at first, however Committee Chairman Mihai Fifor insisted. The ex-lawmaker then said he cannot recall. “Memory plays tricks on me from time to time,” he said.
The topic reappeared during the hearings that lasted over an hour, an irritated Hrebenciuc insisting that he cannot recall the name of the polling institute.
“I said I don’t recall. (…) By phone it’s not difficult [to conduct a poll]. I told you I don’t recall and with this I’ve closed this topic. (…) What relevance does it have for the inquiry. (…) So, I don’t recall. Period,” Hrebenciuc responded to the lawmakers’ insistence.
He told the committee that he believes the elections were rigged because the voting rhythm registered in many polling stations was physically impossible. Geoana’s former campaign chief said that, according to the simulations and calculations made at the time, in a polling station that had two voting booths and two vote stamps only 1,050 persons, at most, could have voted in 14 hours (from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.) and that is why the electoral law stipulated that a polling station should serve a maximum of 2,000 voters, based on the idea that the voter turnout level would be 50 percent on average.
“I can concretely say I have the suspicion the elections were rigged,” he said.
“The serious discussion starts from now on. 1,050 provided all voting takes place non-stop, without any kind of pause, without other issues, scandals and so forth. (…) At Gara de Nord [train station] where an immense line had formed, 730 people voted. There was another polling station that was given a lot of coverage that day – at the [Bucharest] University’s Law Faculty. Around 950 people voted there,” Hrebenciuc said.
He said he was “surprised” when he saw the diaspora lists. According to him, his “surprise” was that the first “long-discussed” polling station in Paris had 3,785 voters, against the backdrop in which in the diaspora voters also had to fill-in an affidavit stating they did not vote in any other polling station. “So, we include [filling-in] this affidavit in those 4 minutes too, without any kind of problem. But Paris is not the only problem. (…) In Ireland, a polling station where 2,342 people voted. In England, there are two polling stations where over 2,000 people voted, the rest show normal figures. (…) From England we move on to Spain and see there were over 10 polling stations with more than 2,300 people voting in each of them, so twice the normal number,” he said.
Hrebenciuc added that he started believing the elections were rigged the moment he started to count polling stations with more than 1,050 voters, the count stopping when it reached the number 70, representing around 70,000 votes, 80 percent of which were for Traian Basescu.
Asked why did PSD not challenge this at the time instead of undersigning the official reports, despite the fact they had doubts about the voter turnout and the rhythm at which ballots were cast, Hrebenciuc blamed the “tiredness” of PSD representatives. “You know very well what a polling station means, how tired people are, being there from morning till evening,” he said.
ALDE’s Cataniciu surprised by PDL’s parallel counting system in 2009: It was technically impossible
The hearings sparked a dispute between ALDE’s Steluta Cataniciu and PNL’s Cezar Preda (member of the former PDL), the former being surprised by PDL’s ability to count the votes in parallel and to display them in a table. The former leader of PDL explained that projected on the screen was an Excel file, sarcastically pointing out that the programme seemed “a miracle” for the parties that lost, not for those who won.
Steluta Cataniciu referred to a famous video that had appeared in the press, filmed in 2009 inside the PDL headquarters, in which Adriean Videanu is seen informing Viorel Hrebenciuc, by phone, that PSD and Mircea Geoana lost the elections. A table was seen projected on a screen behind Videanu, showing the results from polling stations, results tallied by the party’s representatives within the polling stations.
Cataniciu stated during the hearings that the existence of such a table was technically impossible.
“How do you explain the fact that, at the time you had that talk with Mr Videanu, that table was behind him? I for one perfectly recall how that table looked like and it gave us all, people of good faith or not, the impression that that table was from somewhere else. At that time PDL had no possibility, from a technical standpoint, to come up with such a table. (…) How do you explain that such a table was possible?” Cataniciu asked.
Viorel Hrebenciuc responded by saying that the situation “surpasses his capacity of technical comprehension.”
PNL’s Cezar Preda, a member of PDL in 2009, explained however that the table was a simple Excel file projected on a screen, ironizing her for her statements.
“I want to tell Ms Vice President Cataniciu that I don’t feel hypocritical at all telling her that the marvel she saw behind was in fact the projection of an Excel file from a PC on which four operators were working, each of them inputting data from the county where one operator was tallying the official reports received [from polling stations]. At 12 a.m., all 41 counties were there and as they arrived, how many stations they had. (…) What do you find the wonder of the world? It may be the wonder of the world for the parties that did not plan to win the elections in Romania, but my party at the time was winning the elections in Romania and was defeating PSD too,” Preda told her.