Presidential candidates Traian Basescu, Mircea Geoana and Crin Antonescu met on Friday evening for a public debate at the Parliament, in an electoral confrontation organised by the Institute of Public Policy. The show's moderator is journalist Robert Turcescu, and TV channels have been invited to broadcast the event live.
Corneliu Vadim Tudor, presidential runner up for PRM, protested in front of the Parliament Palace for not having been invited to take part in the debate.
Incumbent president Traian Basescu arrived accompanied by his wife and younger daughter Elena. Crin Antonescu arrived a minute later, joined by his wife. Mircea Geoana arrives third, alongside his wife, in the applause of his supporters. The three candidates shook hands and Robert Turcescu started the show at 7 pm.
Why I want to be the president
- Mircea Geoana held the first speech. He committed to having a government elected by Christmas should he win elections. He also stated he had a plan to get Romania out of the economic crisis. Geoana pledged to give his project to the future president of Romania.
- Crin Antonescu was the second to hold a speech. He said that he did not owe anything to other people and that his political career has been built by respecting principles. He claimed to be a "normal" man making politics. He said that Romania is being led by "the same political people, Romania is being led by the moguls that you use".
- Traian Basescu was the third to hold a speech. He said he had made a priority out of Justice during his mandate, which did not lack unfulfilled tasks, unintended nevertheless. He said that the uninominal vote, wished by Romanians, had become reality. He reminded the fact that he condemned the communist period and its crimes. Finally, Basescu said he did not make compromises with anyone and that he had fought for the Education department to get 6% of the GDP.
The second round featured one-on-one confrontations between the candidates.
First confrontation: Geoana vs. Antonescu (during which Basescu was reading Romania's Constitution)
Crin Antonescu did not answer Mircea Geoana's question about giving details on an economic plan. He said PNL joined into a parliamentary alliance with PSD because compromises are sometimes needed. He called Geoana a demagogue.
Second confrontation: Basescu vs. Geoana
Basescu accused Geoana for having left the country without a Government and for having misread the Constitution. According to Basescu, dismissing a minister was not a reason to leave the country without a Government. He wanted to know why the Boc Government failed and why the Croitoru Cabinet was not passed. But Mircea Geoana accused Traian Basescu for dissolving Governments himself, to keep PSD "captive in governance". Basescu retaliated by saying Geoana did it for electoral reasons. Geoana replied that the people were not live better after his five years mandate, which has been full of crises and scandals. Geoana reminded basescu that he was Foreign Affairs minister when the Hague process started and accused Basescu for taking credit for accomplishment that weren't his.
Traian Basescu admitted Romanians were not living as well as they should, but mentioned that pensions increased. He said that the Hague process was a success of the Romanian state. Geoana concluded by indicating that five years after Basescu's mandate, Romania is considered the most corrupt EU country.
Third one-on-one: Antonescu vs. Basescu
Antonescu accused Basescu for his involvement in the disappearance of the Romanian fleet. Basescu held the Fleet dossier in his hand and asked Antonescu to read it.
The confrontations were followed by an hour of debates.
First theme raised was the reform of the state.
Geoana said that Romania has been reforming the shape, but not the content of the country over the past 20 years. Antonescu claimed that all reforms have failed. Basescu said he went to the Parliament to discuss a single-chambered Parliament and a reduced number of MPs. He said that the Justice, Health and Education departments need to continue their reform.
On Education, Basescu proposed a reform of the system, where school directors are selected through competition and where schools with different results receive different budgets. Geoana credited Baseascu with the Pact for Education signed two years ago and added that the system needs to give every child a chance.
Speaking on the crisis of morality, President Basescu took a chance to blame the communism once more, saying he will remain interested in finding out what happened during the 1989 Revolution and the 1990 mineriads. Geoana stated that Romania needs to rebuild its civic sense, while Antonescu opinionated that Romania lacks models, being shown only moguls, barons and party interests.
On Foreign Policy, Mircea Geoana stated Romania needed to have good relationships with its neighbours and to support the democratic Government in Chisinau. Crin Antonescu said that the Romanian needs to be an integrator and that the country needs more diplomats. Traian Basescu mentioned that he has signed five partnerships in five years.
On Health, Crin Antonescu underlined the issues of lack of money, number of qualified staff and the patients' safety. "Health needs to become a right not a lottery", he said. Traian Basescu added that the hospitals' management needs to improve, while Geoana declared that there was a need for attractive packages for young doctors, to generalise the SMURD system, to construct new hospitals, to create a national pharmaceutical company and to produce affordable drugs.
On Agriculture, Basescu counted the sector, next to IT and tourism, on his priority list. He said small farmers needed regional depots and a system of gaining from their production. Geoana said that PSD's main worry was insuring subventions for Romanian farmers. Crin Antonescu put Geoana on the spot, by saying that Geona had promised 4% of the GDP before coming into governance and it gave 1.7% when in power.
Asked by Robert Turcescu to propose a governmental formula, the PSD leader claimed that Romania will have a Government by Christmas and that PSd would prefer a coalition with PNL. Crin Antonescu said he would designate Klaus Johannis as PM. Basescu said that the Government must not be controlled by Voiculescu, liescu, Vantu and Vanghelie and the party holding most Parliamentary mandates forms the Government.
On the economic crisis
Crin Antonescu proposed the cancellation of the forfetary tax, which, in his opinion, destroyed companies. He advocated for a fiscal relaxation, the reduction of the unique income tax and decentralisation.
Basescu said the unique income tax and the VAT will remain unchanged. He would stress the food industry, IT and tourism and said that the fiscality cannot be reduced due to the IMF agreement.
Mircea Geoana said that urgent measures to pay the interest rate are needed and that economic liberalism does not have a place in Europe anymore.
The three candidates contradicted each other on the IMF agreement, followed by questions from the press.
Robert Turcescu asked the candidates to tell which was their life's most beautiful deed
- Mircea Geoana: I did not throw my mother-in-law out of the house
- Crin Antonescu: I have never left anyone behind in my public or personal life
- Traian Basescu: I baptised into Christianity a Muslim
The final round: each of the candidates took two minutes to convey their message to the country
- Crin Antonescu: Help me to get pass Mircea Geoana and into the second round on November 22. Nobody blackmails me, nobody helped me to get so far. I have fought and I am very close to victory. Please show up on November 22. I believe we are a great deal. God speed!
- Mircea Geoana: Neither Basescu, nor Antonescu are my enemies. I believe there is respect in politics. Allow me that, as a symbol of cherish, to offer Mrs. Basescu and Mr. Crin Antonescu's wife a bunch of flowers. And to my wife, Mihaela, I offer her a bunch of flowers. And I would like to wish my counter-candidates success. May the best win!
- Traian Basescu: I am a man proud of his country's symbols, proud of his nation's traditions and who aims high. For five years, I have proved Romanians that i have not negotiated their interests with those who would have made them look nicer on TV if one more dossier had been closed, one more Mail service had been privatised. I will always represent Romanians before any Constitution, be it the Parliament. So help me God!
Each candidate came with a number of party members for stage support. These did not miss the opportunity to fight among themselves while their party presidents were engaged in debates.