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Lots of criminally investigated candidates as Romania local elections campaign begins

de V.O.
Miercuri, 30 aprilie 2008, 18:28 English | Politics

Olteanu, Stolojan, Mitrea
Foto: Rompres
The electoral campaign for local elections due in early June begins officially on Friday. Unofficially, it has already started for some time now. The big news this year, as compared to other electoral campaigns, seems to be the disappearance of speeches against corruption. All parties have accepted on their lists from one to many candidates who are facing criminal inquiries. The record belongs to the county of Gorj in southern Romania, where all candidates to the county council are criminally investigated.

The Democratic-Liberal (PD-L) candidate for the top job in the Gorj County Council is Ionel Mantog, a former state secretary who is now criminally investigated for abuse in office. The candidate of the Social Democrats (PSD) for the same job is Ion Calinoiu, also facing a criminal inquiry. The Liberal (PNL) candidate, Dan Ilie Morega, who has been a political migrant for years, is investigated by anti-graft prosecutors. And the candidate of the smaller New Generation Party (PNG), Nicolae Mischie, beats all records with two sentences and three ongoing investigations on his name.

House speaker Bogdan Olteanu (PNL) has recently explained in a talk show why Liberals chose Morega despite his criminal performance. "As long as others were not ashamed, I don't know whether we should be the first to stand up and be ashamed" of the chosen candidate, Olteanu said on the occasion.

PD-L, for its part, is also supporting two candidates with a criminal record: Gheorghe Falca in Arad, Western Romania, and Mircia Gutau in Valcea, South Romania. Both are incumbent mayors and run for a new term. PD-L vice-president Theodor Stolohan has explained in another debate that the party had accepted their candidacies because the two did not show they're fleeing justice and were willing to face court as soon as possible to clear their names.

Olteanu spoke of the two PD-L mayors and of Morega as benefiting from the principle they're not guilty unless proven.

For their part, the Social Democrats (PSD) concentrate the largest number of so-called local moguls - people of major influence on politics and business in one county or another. These include Gavril Marza in Suceava, Constantin Contac in Botosani, Marian Oprisan in Vrancea, Nicusor Constantinescu and Radu Mazare in Constanta, almost all of them facing criminal inquiries.

PSD campaign head Miron Mitrea said in yet another campaign recently that the party had no problem as long as these people are voted by their citizens and that they are only under the attack of political adversaries because of their record in collecting votes.

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