“People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.”
― Alan Moore, V for Vendetta
For more than two weeks I am thinking if I should get into the current Romanian political events and write about it. After drafting and re-drafting these few hundred words, I have decided that it is my duty as a Romanian citizen and not long ago, a Romanian diaspora citizen, to at least touch upon the main highlights of these events. Also, I am writing this because it is the least I could do in order to thank everyone who positively contributed to the entire series of events for the past two weeks. To be more precise, yesterday (16 Nov 2014) Romanians everywhere have chosen their new president, Mr. Klaus Iohannis. But before getting to the main point of this article, I will go a bit back in time.
The election campaign started on the 3rd of October, with a number of 14 candidates. After the first round of voting (2 Nov), Victor Ponta – current Prime Minister and leader of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Klaus Iohannis – mayor of Sibiu and leader of the National Liberal Party (NLP), qualified for the second round (16 Nov). While Victor Ponta seemed to be the favourite during the first round, leading with ~40%, Mr. Klaus Iohannis managed to win the second round with more than 54% (11AM local time). Opinions about the two top candidates have been divided since forever, if we think about it, given that the final battle was between the Government and the Opposition.
But, this post won’t be about the political agendas of the two candidates or the political campaigns or the political promises. This post will be about the millions of Romanians that voted both at home and abroad. And actually, these millions of Romanian voters have won the final battle by choosing a person to represent us in the following years. Not only the opinions about the two candidates were divided, but also the electorate, the supporters of the two were different. They were different first, in terms of political preference – obviously; second, in terms of demographics; third, in terms of perspectives on the future; fourth, in terms of rewards they received – there’s no secret that the SDP worked their way through the election campaign in mischievous manners; and the list could go on. Of course there were scandals from both sides, but I am not getting into that subject, as I mentioned before.
All things aside, the most undeniable episode of this presidential elections period was the situation outside Romania – the situation of the expats, of the Diaspora. Thousands of Romanians from all over the world had to deal with ‘disrespect, humiliation, disregard’ during the two rounds. Thousands of Romanians have waited in hours-long queues, whether it was freezing cold or pouring rain, in order to cast their vote – a fundamental human right and also, one of the essential elements of democracy. There is no need to debate whether the Government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Central Electoral Bureau were faulty in organising the elections/polling stations for the Diaspora. The thousands of Romanian expats, together with other thousands of their supporters who have protested at home have shown their disappointment towards all those institutions. Yet, ‘disappointed and humiliated’, all those thousands of Romanian expats whose right to vote was ‘stolen’, stood still in front of the polling stations even after their access inside was denied and, in the second round, arrived at the stations in even larger numbers. Some had to travel for hundreds of kilometres to the nearest polling station, some even walked for hundreds of kilometres, others started queuing hours before the opening of the polling stations. At the same time, in Romania, people living in the big cities have marched and protested as a sign of solidarity/gratitude/respect/support for the expats. 25 years after the Revolution, millions of Romanians seemed to have come together and unite towards a better future. At 21.00 PM local time, when the first results were disclosed and Mr. Iohannis was proclaimed president, the protests turned into celebrations. Even if hundreds of people did not get the chance to vote, the results were clear and Romanians everywhere were declared heroes. As Victor Ponta put it, while accepting his defeat: ‘The people are always right’.
And now, in the conclusion, the whole point of this post was to thank you all.
A VERY BIG THANK YOU to:
All those who voted for our future!
All those who stood in line for hours!
All those who travelled hundreds of kilometres to cast their vote!
All those who supported the Diaspora – politicians, journalists, people who filled the streets!
All those who volunteered at the polling stations in order to ease up the voting process!
All those who believed!
I was never a big fan of politics and I never liked talking politics. I think everyone is entitled to their own opinions, beliefs and political preferences, without being questioned. This was not a political talk, this was just a message of respect to all those mentioned above and probably many others. I was part of the Romanian Diaspora not so long ago and watching what was happening abroad made me put myself in all those people’s shoes. Lastly, THANK YOU for still believing in Romania, even if you chose to go abroad for a while. Hopefully all the hassle will be worth it!
Until next time, open your eyes and your ears to what the world has to tell you!
By: Ioana-Alexandra Tache