Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Voting in Romania

Voting section
I went to Romania to vote.  I actually wanted to support one of the candidates this time! Thanks to Wizz air (15 Euro/flight up to the last minute) it was easier to fly to Timisoara than to figure out how to vote abroad. Coincidentally, we ended up voting in the physics office of the school that our address was assigned to. There were 3 voting booths, a few people, and no waiting line. I was also impressed that stores did not sell alcohol on Sunday (the voting day) because people were supposed to be clear minded.

So, who won? and what do I think of them? Klaus Johannis (Partidul National Liberal). He is a highschool teacher of physics turned politician, which can be taken as one more proof that physicists are smart and can do anything! His election should make the country more open and more connected to Western Europe. There are already a lot of investors from Italy, France, Switzerland and Germany, which lead most of the agricultural sector and most businesses in Romania.  Mr. Johannis is from the German minority of Romania and speaks Romanian with a slight German accent. I found it a bit funny to be listening to him talk. I could almost envision hearing him speak the German translation of his words.

His opponent had been the current prime minister, Mr. Victor Ponta - Partidul Social Democrat, i.e., the socialists/communists. Even though he is young, he is the typical representative of the current political class. Fortunately, this class no longer has strong roots in part due to the large number of foreign investors. So, I have never thought he would win the elections.  He did lie on his resume, and I found it interesting that he was still allowed to candidate. The argument that he did not plagiate because he hired somebody to write his PhD and did not copy himself was particularly funny. Of course, the official version is that he just misused citations for 75% precent of his thesis. Also, he took one course abroad, and then claimed to have a Masters. All this is reprehensible, but then Vladimir Putin also copied his thesis and so did many, many other corrupt leaders. Nobody calls them Dr. Copy-Paste because they are politically too strong to be picked on that way. Furthermore, Ponta is a bit older than me and almost became president and he must have some strength of personality just to be able to stand all the pressure. So, I do believe he does deserves some respect for that and not just media shaming.

Romania is the one country that makes me feel home whether I visit for a few days, a few weeks or a few hours. I still have faith in it. In the long term, I expect progress to continue, the business and agricultural sectors to thrive and property prices to grow. However, just like in the rest of the world, there will be times when things will get worse and times they will get better again. So, I try not to build unreasonable expectations. Had Ponta won, it would have been nothing out of the ordinary - just a continuation of the same corrupt regime, but now people have hope. I pray that they will not be too disappointed too soon.

Disclaimer: I do not own a TV, and I have not been listening to presidential debates. I did hear both Ponta and Johannis speak for about 10 minutes each after I voted. I suppose that means I am not a well informed person, but somehow the trash throwing that the politicians do never seemed worth my time or peace of mind.  

No Alcohol on voting day
Will I move back to Romania? It's unclear.  So far I have consistently tried to be in the country where I thought I could do the most science. I have spent so much time studying that I thought it a pity to not continue, but I am not sure what I will do in the long term.

I close by quoting my brother: "Life is beautiful when you wake up in the morning and for a few minutes you do not know what country you are in today, and when you do not yet know what country you will be in tomorrow". He lives this way. For my side, however, I have mostly been feeling uncertain and afraid instead of excited and looking forward to many next adventures.

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