No surprises for Prime Minister candidates
Romania’s three main parties have launched their candidates for the Prime Minister position for the elections this November.
The left-wing Social Democratic Party (PSD) supports its president Mircea Geoana, 50, for future Prime Minister. The ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs is also the candidate of the right-wing Conservative Party (PC) as the two parties will run in an alliance.
The National Liberal Party (PNL) has proposed current Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu, 56, to continue his work for a second four-year term.
Theodor Stolojan, 65, is the former president of the PNL and now the candidate of the Democratic Liberals (PD-L) for Prime Minister - a position he held at the beginning of the 1990s.
The PD-L is currently the most popular party in the polls. Stolojan has said that Tariceanu has to give people answers for the failure of the education system, for stopping the decentralisation of the local authorities, blocking justice reform and for the small rate of absorption of EU structural funds.
The PD-L is the largest party with 39 per cent in a recent opinion poll published by Insomar, ahead of elections on 30 November.
This party is followed by the Social Democratic Party (PSD) with 25 per cent and the National Liberal Party (PNL) with 20 per cent.
The Greater Romania Party (PRM) and the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR) have only four per cent. This is less than the five per cent threshold needed for a party to enter Parliament. Financier of Steaua Football Club Gigi Becali’s New Generation Party has only three per cent, while the Civic Hungarian Party (UCM) and the Conservative Party (PC) have only one per cent, according to Insomar. Compared to a similar study published last July, the PD-L has gained one per cent, the PSD has lost two per cent, while the PNL gained four cent.
President Traian Basescu gave Parlaiment a show of praise for allowing cases against three ministers and 14 MPs to go to court, which is a sign that “justice has proved its efficiency”.
The President said reform had to continue because citizens’ trust in justice remains low and cannot be taken for granted. “For the Romanian people, justice has become a luxury,” said Basescu.
Criticising his country, he said that the GDP per capita in Romania only represents 40 per cent of the European average. This is partly due to the low productivity in the agriculture sector. “We should reduce the amount of citizens living in the countryside to less than 15 per cent by 2015,” said Basescu.
Romania’s demographic downturn was also in his concern. If the birth rate continues to be as low as today, the President has highlighted that in 100 years Romania will reach 8.5 million people. Compared to 1990, the country has 1.5 million fewer people.
At the end of Basescu’s speech, which was boycotted by the National Liberal Party and the Social Democrats, the President said he will work with any new Government in November providing it “is not associated with oligarchs.”
Former president of the National House for Pensions Mariana Campeanu has replaced Paul Pacuraru as Minister of Labour, Social Solidarity and Family. She was appointed after Paul Pacuraru resigned from office. Pacuraru quit a day after President Traian Basescu had asked for his suspension from office.
Pacuraru is under investigation by the national anti-corruption prosecutors for allegedly taking a bribe against a preferential appointment for a top position in the Ministry of Labour. In return for the favour, Pacuraru asked for support so that his son’s company could win contracts with state energy companies, it is alleged. Pacuraru pleads his innocence.
The new Minister of Labour has received praise from the President and is considered to be a safe pair of hands for the Ministry over the next two months until the election.
Romania: education level of
Iran and Trinidad
Romanian pupils have among the lowest levels of knowledge in the first 12 grades of school. Romania is placed 36 out of 45 countries, according to a report by Progress in International Reading Literacy Study. Romania dropped from 22, the rank it registered in 2001, the last time when the study was drawn up. Romania posted a similar score to Trinidad and Tobago, Iran and Indonesia, and was far behind all western European countries, Russia and Hungary.
Democratic Liberal Party (PD-L) has thrown its support behind a single parliamentary chamber. The president of PD-L Emil Boc said that after the general election, his party will start gathering signatures to put this forward for referendum. For the structure of Parliament to change, the public must approve the move which will mean a modification in the Constitution. The PD-L believes that Romania has too many MPs compared to the size of its population. Countries such as Hungary, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Portugal have one chamber with around 350 members. Romania has at the moment around 470 senators and members of the Chamber of Deputies. After this November’s elections, this figure could rise or fall.
Basescu: not guilty for
President Traian Basescu has been found not guilty of discrimination by the high court, because offensive statements he made were expressed in a private conversation. In May 2007, while the President and his wife were shopping in a cash & carry store in Bucharest, a journalist started filming him with her mobile phone camera. The President confiscated her mobile, but did not turn off the camera. This registered a private conversation between he and his wife, Maria, calling the journalist “a stinkin’ gypsy”. Last month, the court advised the President to be more careful when choosing his words, because he is Romania’s head of state, even when wheeling a trolley in a cash & carry store.
Romania loses number one
Romania has lost its status as the most corrupt country in the European Union to Bulgaria. According to the latest corruption perception index by NGO Transparency International (TI), Romania’s index has increased by only 0.1 per cent since last year, while Bulgaria has dropped by 0.5 per cent compared to 2007. Worldwide Romania is ranked 71st out of 180 countries in the index analysed by TI, with the top posting the least amount of perceived corruption.
Romania faces court case
for emergency calls failure
European Commission (EC) is taking Romania to court because its emergency number 112 is not operating to European standards. The EC has been criticising Romania for a year for failing to develop a system which traces the locations from which 112 phone calls have been made. This system is necessary to speed up emergency services to a location where people’s lives are in danger. Last September the EC decided to take Romania and Bulgaria to the European Court of Justice. Since 2006, 14 member states have been taken to the European Court of Justice. In eight of the cases the states solved the problem before the court decision. Slovakia and Lithuania have already received a decision stating they have breached the acquis communitaire.
Government guily of
Pressured by the Romanian Orthodox Church, the Government discriminates against other religious groups, reveals a new report by the US Department of State. Even though the Romanian law protects religious diversity, the report stated that the Orthodox religion is favoured, while other religions are ignored. This was especially true when it came to education in schools. The document presents cases in which the Romanian Orthodox Church has shown a hostile attitude towards other religions. The report also argues that the Romanian Government has blocked the restitutions of property belonging to the Greek-Catholic Church, which were confiscated by the Communists after 1946.