Romania: Re-Elected Mayors Tied To Corruption

Published: 09 June 2016


Bucharest, Romania (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)


In a country where graft is seen on all levels of society, the re-elected mayors of 11 counties are either accused or under investigation for corruption, Balkan Insight reported.

 Septimiu Parvu from the Expert Forum-EFOR think tank said that “it is as if Romanians are suffering from Stockholm syndrome,” referring to the phenomenon in which kidnap victims develop positive feelings for their captors. “Despite the fact that their money is constantly being stolen and they are victims of these people in the public administrations, they still vote for them,” Parvu told Balkan Insight.

In an earlier interview, the United States Ambassador to Romania encouraged citizens not to vote for candidates accused of corruption.

In a pre-election analysis, Politico said that the risk of corruption is high within the country because Romanian law does not exclude those involved in corruption probes from running for office. In addition, its 20 million population is evenly distributed between the cities and rural areas, which means that local leaders are tasked to manage sizeable amounts of aid money from the European Union. The mayor of Bucharest, for example, has a budget of 900 million Euros.

A survey before the local elections found that at least 82 percent of voters said they would not vote for a candidate who was on trial or under investigation for corruption. But the election results show otherwise.

For example, one re-elected mayor, Catalin Chereches of Baia Mare, won re-election even though he was running his campaign from preventative arrest in prison. Chereches was arrested in April on bribery charges, and used intermediaries and Facebook posts to get 70 percent of the vote, Balkan Insight reported.

Overall, the biggest losers of the elections were the anti-corruption public, according to journalist Florin Negrutiu, who said that for many citizens, “an honest candidate is in fact just a fool who doesn't know how to steal.”

However, one local election made news for a different reason, because several candidates for mayor were named Vasile Cepoi, according to the New York Times. The incumbent mayor changed his name to Vasile Lica Cepoi, and secured re-election.