After Ukraine, Romania shows democracy at work

Share
Related Topics

The outcome of Sunday's presidential elections in Romania has more than a few echoes of Ukraine. The dénouement in Bucharest is, for now at least, more reassuring.

The outcome of Sunday's presidential elections in Romania has more than a few echoes of Ukraine. The dénouement in Bucharest is, for now at least, more reassuring.

The tense stand-off during which Prime Minister Adrian Nastase, the ruling left's candidate, and the opposition challenger, Traian Basescu, both claimed victory, has ended in triumph for the reforming Mr Basescu. Mr Nastase, a protégé of the outgoing President and veteran former communist Ion Iliescu, had nosed ahead in the first round of elections on 28 November. But, as in Kiev, that vote was dogged by allegations of fraud, prompting street protests and international concern. In another parallel with Ukraine, the election exposed deep divisions between the urban middle classes and rural voters wary of reforms advocated by Mr Basescu's centrist Justice and Truth Alliance.

For the Romanian people and for the rest of Europe, the victory of the more pro- Western candidate represents a welcome turning point. This is a country still struggling to build democratic institutions and a functioning economy almost 15 years after the collapse of communism. Mr Nastase could boast of his achievements in leading Romania into the ranks of Nato membership this year, but the sluggish pace of reform in other areas has delayed accession to the European Union until 2007 at the earliest. The challenge for the incoming leadership in navigating accession to the club of European democracies remains formidable. Rampant corruption and political patronage, the hallmarks of Mr Nastase's leadership, are hobbling progress.

Mr Basescu is not associated with the old communist regime. As mayor of Bucharest he has proved effective, pushing through improvements like removing urban eyesores and stray dogs. Unusually, he has also spoken up for the rights of gays and other minorities. His most enduring campaign promise was that he would stamp out corruption.

In a powerful victory speech yesterday, he repeated that pledge to the cheers of his orange-clad supporters. Let us hope that he can deliver the quiet revolution they expect. Ukraine will be watching.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Teaching Assistant for KS1 & KS2 Huddersfield

£50 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We are looking for flexible and i...

Teaching Assistant for KS1 & KS2 Huddersfield

£50 - £65 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: We are looking for flexible and...

Primary Teaching Supply

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher r...

Year 1/2 Teacher

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Teacher required,...

Day In a Page

These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

The fall of Rome?

Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
Glasgow girl made good

Glasgow girl made good

Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
The landscape of my imagination

The landscape of my imagination

Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories