The result of the Presidential election last week was not unexpected but was a surprise. Since 1990 when I first came to Romania to practice law in Romania there have been many false dawns. Each time there has been an election we hoped that there would be some change; although unfortunately in most cases this has not been the case.
After the election of President Constantinescu we hoped for change; but he soon surrounded himself with the old guard. President Basescu brought about a different change but still there were many people from the past who continued to exercise influence, if not at a national level certainly at a local level. Why will this election be different?
Since 1990 both Romania and the world have changed. The coup in 1989 took place in a world which was not interconnected. It is difficult to remember the world back then. There was no internet and emails. No mobile telephones. The world was not “modern”. So much has changed. We are now an interconnected world.
Much has been written as to why Victor Ponta lost. I attended a meeting prior to the election and the political analyst was very clear. Ponta would only loose it, if he made mistakes. This he clearly did. He tried to disenfranchise the diaspora not only once but twice. The diaspora reacted by making sure their relatives in Romania voted against him. He tried to bribe an electorate in the old way – a rise in pensions – lowering VAT etc. He had cynically acted in the past and people did not trust him. He appeared to treat the electorate with disdain. He and his party paid the price.
It must be remembered though that Victor Ponta is still the Prime Minister. He is still the leader of the Government, and if it is not him, the PSD still are the largest party in the Parliament and entitled to choose the Prime Minister. This they will do on the balance of probabilities.
The reaction of the people in Romania has been very interesting to see. There are some people who are very angry at what has happened. Those who clearly were expecting to benefit from his election as President. Unfortunately, amongst the people who supported President elect Iohannis, I have heard some of them say “now we will make money because we are in power”.
Now whilst this will be true in some cases this will not be true in all cases. The President has taken the position with a lot riding on his ability to show that this is a new beginning for Romania. The European Union who watched the election very closely will do its best to make sure the gains which have been so hard won are built upon.
Talking to a number of business men and people of all ages it is clear that many feel that now the revolution is really beginning.
The majority of people are now feeling that the former Communist machine is breaking down and no longer wields the influence that it once did. More and more people, not only the diaspora are aware of the proper way of doing business. They have come to realize that you can make money and have a good life by following the rules and not lying and cheating to achieve what you want. These are the people on who the future of Romania will lay.
There is a different attitude in Romania. People appear to be happy again and looking forward to the future. It is clear that the country will not go back. There is too much stored knowledge in the country for it to be erased. Gone are the old ways of doing business. Gone are the old ways of politics. Communication at all levels has ensured that things will progress. All this is very good news for Romania.
Romanians outside of Romania will begin to hold up their heads and be more confident to say that they are Romanians. The untapped resources of both the country and the people will begin to show through. Once the results of the election are absorbed then I know that foreign investment will increase as investors will see the value of Romania both in terms of political stability and a country where much still has to be done to improve it as a working business economy.
The future of Romania now lies in the hands of a young new President (55) and a young new Romania.