Romania elects new president
Romanians will go to the polls on Sunday to elect a new president. Incumbent Klaus Iohannis of the liberal-conservative PNL is the favourite, with the latest polls putting him ahead of ex-prime minister Viorica Dăncilă of the social democratic PSD, who was toppled in October. Romanian papers bemoan the lack of a real debate about political alternatives in the campaign.
Undemocratically avoiding confrontation
Commenting on website G4Media, journalist Dan Tapalaga criticises Iohannis's refusal to take part in a televised debate with the other candidates:
“Do you know a single country in the EU where the president claims to want a second mandate but then refuses to show himself to his voters and avoids confrontation with his rivals? ... How did it come to this sham 2019 election campaign? It's the fault of the main candidate Klaus Iohannis, who appears to be present but is in fact absent. We see him, but he's not there. He goes everywhere, but he only participates in perfectly orchestrated events where he recites his election speech then leaves. Is this prompted by fear of his own weaknesses, distrust, the arrogance of the favourite, excessive complacency, or a bit of all of the above? It's hard to say. What is clear is that his fleeing confrontation is one big step backwards for democracy.”
A campaign without character
Something essential is lacking in this campaign, the Hungarian-language website Maszol writes:
“This is about the public office with the highest legitimation: when you take that (and the costs of the campaign) into account, the present campaign is unworthy. In fact it has no character at all, it's undefinable. The job description in the constitution states that the president is to play the role of mediator between the state institutions and society. ... This function, perhaps the most important from the domestic policy viewpoint, has mostly remained in the background. ... The basic contradiction of the 2019 presidential election campaign is that a confrontational discourse is dominating the debate while the discussions that should be part of this process are being pushed to the sidelines.”