A mandate for reform

Cristian Pîrvulescu translated by Cosmin Ghidoveanu
English Section /

Ilustraţie de MAKE

Ilustraţie de MAKE

At the time I wrote these lines, five hours before the polls closed, Klaus Iohannis had a clear victory. No surprise! All indicators, throughout the day, anticipated a difference of at least 20% between Klaus Iohannis and his counter-candidate: significantly higher voting presence in the Diaspora compared to the first round; higher attendance after 11 o'clock compared to the first round, reaching more than 2% at 16:00; the higher number of urban voters; numerical mobilization - not percentage, because the percentage misleads as long as the population to which it is related is small - of the electorate of urbanized and economically dynamic counties (in Bucharest alone the number of voters that had gone out to vote by 4 PM o'clock was bigger than that of voters in six counties dominated by the PSD, such as Dolj, Gorj, Olt, Giurgiu, Mehedinţi and Teleorman, and outside Bucharest, there were about 250,000 voters in Timiş, Cluj, Prahova, Constanţa and Iaşi).

It was not the victory of Klaus Iohannis that was the stake of these elections, but the size of the support he enjoys. The greater the proportion of the vote in favor of the incumbent president, the less legitimacy of the second term was more difficult to dispute. For, after the presidential elections of September 1992, whose first round was held simultaneously with the parliamentary elections, Klaus Iohannis is the first president who manages to obtain a second successive term without controversy.

It was vital for the PSD to prove that it can still mobilize a numerically significant electorate to claim the right to challenge the legitimacy of the president-elect and to prepare the strategy for the 2020 electoral confrontations. The presidential elections could not help the PSD and mask the worst electoral performance of the party in the history of the presidential elections. On May 20, 1990, Ion Iliescu made 85.07% of the first round, while in the second round, in 1992, the same Ion Iliescu got 61.47%, and in 1996 he lost the elections against Emil Constantinescu, with 45.59%, to then win in 2000 with 66.83%. After that, PSD did not win the presidential elections, but in 2004 Adrian Nastase got 48.77%, Mircea Geoană in 2009 - 49.66%, and in 2014 Victor Ponta got as much as Ion Iliescu in 1996, 45.57% of the votes.

The clear victory of President Klaus Iohannis gives him a precious advantage that he did not have in the first term: re-legitimized by the vote, the president has, at least theoretically, the possibility to implement his political program, which thus becomes the program of the Orban government. On the other hand, although the government is in favor of it, the political geography of the parliament is variable.

In the previous term, the president was never able for a moment to implement his program, because he could not collaborate from that point of view with any of the governments, not even with the Cioloş government, but especially because in all this time the parliament was constantly hostile to him.

Or, if the government is today, a presidential government, like it wasn't five years ago, as was the case between 1992 and 1994 with the Văcăroiu government and between 2010 and 2012 with the Boc government, the parliament's political architecture isn't exactly favorable. Once the legitimacy of the vote has been depleted, in three-four months, the parties - not just PSD, but others as well - will try to isolate or even counter the president. So in order to get his bet, the president only has a few months available. How will president Iohannis, under these complex political terms, president Iohannis turn this victory into reformative policies? Because Romania needs the opening of major political construction yards to transform it. Otherwise, it runs the risks of losing the opportunities and remain a peripheral country drifting on the strong currents of history.

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