14 enter Romanian presidential race

The Central Electoral Office (BEC) has finalized the list of candidates for the upcoming Romanian presidential election, and despite irregularities  on some signature sheets, there are still 14 participants in the race for the privileged position of running Romania from the Cotroceni Palace.

According to the BEC, the fourteen candidates eligible are

  1. Viorel Cataramă (Liberal Right Party – a party rejected by the BEC from competing in the May 2019 European Elections),
  2. Viorica Dăncilă (Social Democratic Party or PSD),
  3. Theodor Paleologu (People’s Movement Party or PMP),
  4. Klaus Iohannis (National Liberal Party or PNL),
  5. Dan Barna (Alliance USR-PLUS),
  6. Kelemen Hunor (Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania or RMDSZ),
  7. Mircea Diaconu (Alliance UN OM),
  8. Ramona-Ioana Bruynseels (Humanist Power Party),
  9. Cătălin Ivan (Alternate for National Dignity),
  10. Bogdan Marian-Stanoevici (independent),
  11. John-Ion Banu (Romanian Nation Party),
  12. Sebastian-Constantin Popescu (New Romania Party),
  13. Alexandru Cumpănaşu (independent),
  14. Ninel Peia (Romanian Nationhood Party).

If you think fourteen candidates is too many, please reconsider: Before the candidates actually visited the BEC to officially submit the required documentation for the presidential elections, 23 people had been publicly aspiring to run. We aren’t aware of their reasons – we are just guessing that it may be due to the high temperatures recorded this summer – but the announcements made were for real. Of those 23, just 14 were able to gather the necessary signatures to officially participate in the race for the presidential chair. And the fact that the BEC has serious doubts about the validity of the signatures submitted by eight out of the 14 candidates may be an after-effect of what was a record hot summer.

Anyway, Socio-Data sheds some light on the chances that any of the aforementioned candidates might have – at least during the period of the survey. According to this poll, which was conducted mid-September, Klaus Iohannis’ popularity dropped by six percentage points to 40%, but he’s still well ahead of the second-strongest candidate, Viorica Dăncilă, who has gained traction, rising in popularity from single digits to 19% among the people surveyed between September 16 and 20.

In third place, surprisingly or not, we find actor/politician Mircea Diaconu, who is affiliated with the UN OM alliance, an electoral venture formed by ALDE and the Victor Ponta-led PRO Romania parties. Dan Barna, often mentioned by the Romanian media as Iohannis’ biggest competitor, dropped to fourth place to 15% (down from 22%). Theodor Paleologu (PMP) would receive 5%, and Hunor Kelemen 3% of the votes, according to the survey. The poll was conducted by phone and included more than a thousand people.

Hunor Kelemen – an ethnic Hungarian – is the president of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (RMDSZ), the main political representation of an ethnic minority that makes up 6.1% of the country’s population – and hence its voter base. RMDSZ decided to enter Kelemen in the race – with the slogan “Respect” so as the Hungarian community can have its message out in the mainstream media, advocating the respect of minority rights, but also with a comprehensive educational program. His party gathered 270,000 signatures in support of Kelemen, well above the legally required 200,000.

While he does not stand a realistic chance of winning, his party could also influence the final outcome of the presidential election by calling on its voters to support the candidate which is most sympathetic to their cause in the second round.

Now, it’s time to consider which candidate has a vision for the next five years and make a decision based on that on November 10th in the first round and on November 24th in the second round, when only two candidates will remain in the race.


Title image: The candidates in the race for the privileged position of running Romania from the Cotroceni Palace

Author: István Fekete