Victor Ponta will not be Romania’s next president

In the good old days of the Socialist Republic of Romania, president Nicolae Ceausescu would regularly feed his cult of personality by holding enormous, meticulously prepared rallies in football stadiums. Workers would be brought in from all over the country to cheer and applaud on cue, usually in exchange for extra rations.

Based on the Mass Games first seen in North Korea, Ceausescu’s rallies became grander and more impressive as the years went on (and, perversely, Romania’s living standards fell) until they unsurprisingly came to an abrupt halt in December 1989.

But fear not! Any Romanians nostalgic for such magnificent displays of affection for the country’s glorious, beloved leader will be pleased to know that prime minister Victor Ponta has decided to revive them.

On Saturday – his birthday – Ponta held a grotesque self-aggrandising party at Bucharest’s Arena Nationala to officially launch his candidacy for the Romanian presidency. The photos speak for themselves:

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Unsurprisingly, Romanian civil society was appalled at the spectacle, and did not waste any time in making the comparison between Ponta and Ceausescu. In response to such criticism, Ponta bizarrely said yesterday that comparisons with the old dictator were unfounded, as ‘Ceausescu actually held his party congress at the Sala Palatului.’

So that’s alright then.

Anyway, as the full, appalling spectacle unfolded on Saturday we said that ‘today is the day Ponta loses the presidential election.’ A couple of days on and we think it was a good call. Ponta will not be Romanian president. No matter who faces Ponta in the second round (and the most likely candidate remains Mayor of Sibiu Klaus Iohannis) we simply can’t see the prime minister winning. We refuse to believe that – beyond the medieval PSD heartlands of Teleorman, Olt, Gorj, Dolj and Moldova – anyone will choose Ponta over Iohannis. (Not, we should add, because Iohannis is the ideal candidate: he is far from it).

Ponta’s campaign by the way has been firmly centered on the nationalist slogan Marea Unire, the name given to the unification of Transylvania with Moldova and Wallachia in 1918. Beyond the slogan’s nakedly obvious expansionism there is also another parallel with Nicolae Ceausescu to be drawn: the idea of ‘uniting all Romanians behind one leader’ is very much the same as the Party – Ceausescu – Romania narrative of the 1980s, which made the notions of Ceausescu and Romania inseparable. Ponta is Romania: that’s what we are being told to think. Fortunately, people are refusing to do so.

Finally, it is worth noting that the photos above all come from Ponta’s own Facebook page.

It was Son of Bucharest Life (or Bucharest Life Jr., as he has called his blog) who first pointed us in the direction of Ponta on Facebook.

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As well offering us a glimpse at the sheer size of Ponta’s ego, the page is well worth reading for the comments underneath each post. Most entertaining.

PS For a better idea of what Saturday was like, this excellent little film will give you a very good idea. Look out for the way Ponta is introduced:

  • Our whispers is Klaus Johanis for president;to clean big corruption,our major needs are justice, economical politics and human rights for people;Ponta and PSD will never bring this; only lies and continuity for corruption and anarchy.

  • Phil

    And a surprise candidate, coming up on the rails… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMGDoQPVTIo

    He probably wouldn’t look that out of place, either.

  • Simon

    So pharaonic, so sick.

  • Expatescu

    As much as I would like to see him lose the election, I think it’s foregonners that he’s the next president. Buying votes through ridiculous ideas (university without passing high school exams) and being in charge of the counting, I don’t see how he can lose.

    • anon

      ‘(university without passing high school exams)’
      Hahaha why am I not surprised that he doesn’t consider academic integrity to be a high priority?

  • Dermitius

    Ponta will get a lot of covert backing and funding from the US because the idea of reuniting Moldova to Romania not only appeals to many Romanians it also directly serves US interests. If Moldova becomes part of Romania then Transnistria becomes part of a Nato country and any Russian military activity there could be used as a pretext for conflict with Russia under the guise of ‘collective self-defence’. Russia won’t see any reason either why it should give in over Transnistria since its historical and ethnic claim to that region is just as good as Romania’s. Of course the falsely fraternal EU won’t want an influx of Moldovans any more than it wanted Romanians or Bulgarians but, since it is firmly under the US heel, that won’t make much difference.

    • Ponta is just saying bullshit!A union between Romania and Moldova can’t happen in the near future

    • Crae

      Moldova is an impoverished and strategically insignificant basket case. The US doesn’t care about it.

      • Dermitius

        The US has certainly has no interest in Moldovans, or Romanians for that matter, nor does Moldovia have any natural resources that the US is interested in plundering. But it does have an interest in pushing its forces as near to Russia as possible and in having excuses for military adventure in the region. A Romania encompassing Moldova, and hence, as far as the UN is concerned, Transnistria, achieves both those goals. And, in purely military terms, the Dniester river, in common with East European rivers generally, has had tactical significance during both world wars. Who is to say it will not have the same role in the next one?

  • Mr Rearguard

    Who’s the blonde sort with the big tits? I’d give that one!

    • Ponta’s wife Daciana Sarbu, a PSD MEP. She is the daughter of PSD dinosaur Ilie Sarbu, an alleged Securitate collaborator, adviser on financial affairs to the Orthodox church during the 1980s and one of the people who brought McDonalds to Romania. See how it works?

      • Mr Rearguard

        Nice rack though…

  • Crae

    Weird and totalitarian-looking!

  • Acrually,in the past few years,PSD has not been doing so great in most of moldova.The only trustfull counties are Botosani,Vaslui and Vrancea.

  • Prime Minister Victor Ponta will be advised in the presidential campaign of the American strategist Mitch Stewart, his name binding to the success of campaigns like that of Barack Obama. So where Ceausescu in equation?

    • Ponta has made mistake after mistake throughout this campaign so far, from trying to play the orthodox card (and being very quickly told by the orthodox church to get lost) to attacking Iohannis over ethnicity to Saturday’s grotesque rally. Given, however, that as no political advisor worth his pay would ever, ever recommend holding a vanity-fuelled birthday party in your own honour (an event which brought back less than happy memories for lots of potential voters and which required closing down half of Bucharest) my guess is that Ponta is doing what all power-crazed leaders do and simply ignoring his advisers – wherever they are from.

      • anon

        It could be fun if he was elected only to see him get the ‘helicopter treatment’ which the man he seeks to emulate received.

        • Giuseppe

          Fun, especially if he then gets to ride around in an APC, followed by a live fire test with half a dozen AKs.