Sunday, June 15, 2008

The politics of Bucharest show arrogance does not win

I am not usually one to talk politics, especially since I don't really think there are essential differences between people participating in this game. Yes, I do see it as a game, with rules that you need to follow to get the prize. But this year's mayor election proved that some of the rules are more subtle than just spending the biggest amount of money in promotional ads and having the biggest party support you. Well, pretending to be "one of the people" seems to always help, though. :)

What happened? Internal struggles within the main opposition party led to them choosing their candidate for the city hall not the man with the most popular votes (as resulting from opinion poles), but the man with the most connections in the party. Therefore the other guy decided to candidate independently. He spent almost nothing on campaign ads, while the leading party candidate spent about 600000 euros just for the first part of the elections and God knows how much for the final part.

Conclusion? Sorin Oprescu, the independent candidate, has won the elections. The leading party candidate lost, with all his ad money, while no one even noticed the candidate from the oposition party. Apparently, a great victory for the people in Bucharest. I have no idea if the guy will be any good as a mayor, and I think that is the major flaw in Romanian elections, but the arrogant belief that party support and lots of money can just land you in a popular position has failed once more in Bucharest today.

But my theory is that Oprescu didn't win just by charisma or by the total lack of charisma of his opponent, Blaga, but from the ugly and cheap attacks against him and other candidates from the main party. With slogans like "Let's get rid of the garbage in sector 5, dump Vanghelie" and images of a bulldog and a snake with glasses (Blaga looks like a big ugly dog, while Oprescu wears glasses) they pushed people away. I guess that the fact that the snake is a symbol of wisdom in many cultures past them by completely.

Anyway, my conclusion is that arrogance is the worst thing a Romanian politician can do right now. They can be stupid, corrupt, pathetic, but NOT arrogant. It is traditional in Romania to dream to become powerful, rich, above all others, and it is even more traditional, since most people never do get rich or famous, to totally despise and hate the people that do or behave like they do. Today was a lesson in humility for the political class.