site.btaRomanians Already Mulling Names of Future President Two Years before Elections
There may be quite some time before the next presidential elections in Romania, but local media are already trying to put together the bunch of potential candidates to replace Klaus Iohannis after he leaves the official presidential residence Cotroceni Palace.
Although none has confirmed any such intention, these include the liberal Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca, social democrat leader Marcel Ciolacu, NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana and even European Chief Prosecutor Laura Kovesi.
The second - and final - term of the incumbent President Iohannis will expire at the end of 2024.
Some media though, speculate that the next presidential elections could possibly be held in 2023 if Iohannis were to be elected to replace Jens Stoltenberg as NATO Secretary General, withdrawing pre-term from the post in Romania, according to sources quoted by Digi 24 TV. Stoltenberg’s term in office expires in the fall of 2023. According to Digi 24, this scenario is under "intense discussion" in European offices, while Iohannis himself has hinted that he does not rule out such a possibility, telling the media that if he were asked he would consider the situation very seriously and make a public statement.
The Experienced Diplomat Mircea Geoana
This could mean a "high-level swap" between NATO headquarters in Brussels and the Cotroceni Palace in Bucharest, analysts say, pointing out that the current NATO Deputy Secretary General is a possible contender for the presidency that eluded him in the 2009 elections.
Geoana’s relatively frequent recent appearances at various events in Romania led to assumptions that the former leader of the social democrats is "preparing the turf for the presidential elections", Digi 24 noted. According to the media, his supporters are going to launch a platform called "Project Romania 2030", one without political orientation, uniting figures from the country and abroad, aimed to organize debates, the outcome of which would outline Geoana’s pre-election project.
With an impressive diplomatic career under his belt, the former presidential candidate of the social democrats lost to conservative Traian Basescu by a fraction in 2009 and was even considered winner at first. Then in 2019, he became second in the NATO command - an undeniably high international recognition.
Geoana himself neither confirmed nor denied the opportunity to run in the next Romanian parliamentary elections, telling Euronews he would devote 100% of his attention, energy and talent to his important position in NATO until the last day of his term.
Then again, the Adevarul daily says Geoana has US support and his NATO role has increased with the Ukrainian crisis, but he does not have the support of the local chapters of the Social Democratic Party, the so-called "local barons", who would much prefer the party leader Ciolacu in the presidential race.
The 'Iron Lady' Laura Kovesi
Unlike Geoana, the former chief prosecutor of Romania's National Anticorruption Directorate, Laura Kovesi, has never run in presidential elections, even though the media have been tossing her name around as a possible contender for the post for years.
Kovesi, who now heads the European Prosecution Office, which fights corruption and EU funds embezzlement, has enjoyed a relatively high rating in Romania and a good international image ever since she headed anti-corruption in her home country. She was also the first woman chief prosecutor in Romania, as well as the youngest, not to mention that she served a full term.
Kovesi could be the candidate for the 2024 elections supported by the reformist Save Romania Union, the Romania Libera wrote. The opposition union’s recently elected leader, Catalin Drula, assumed such a possibility in a television interview on July 11, saying any solution was possible, although the parties have tried to find candidates within themselves.
According to a survey of the Sociopol Institute, conducted between June 20 and 27, 2022, the runoff of the presidential elections in 2024 could be expected between Mircea Geoana and Laura Codruta Kovesi, Medifax agency reported, noting that Geoana’s term expires in 2023, and that of Kovesi - in 2026 and that none of them is involved in political activity. The agency also noted that Kovesi declared in 2015 she did not intend to go into politics, although it is not clear whether this is still valid.
A possible win in the presidential elections would make Kovesi, dubbed Romania’s ‘Iron Lady’ by the international press, the first woman president of Romania.
And the Usual Suspects...
The heads of Romania’s two largest parties, Nicolae Ciuca and Marcel Ciolacu, are also mentioned as potential candidates for the presidential post. The puzzle there becomes more complicated, though, because 2024 is also a year for parliamentary and local elections and the parties have already begun discussing potential candidates, the Adevarul writes.
While Ciolacu is not showing signs of having ambitions for the presidency, the party is also refraining from announcing Geoana as a possible candidate.
As to the other ruling party, the eyes of the national liberals are focused mainly on the formation’s leader, Nicolae Ciuca, Adevarul says, recalling that as a rule the National Liberal Party always nominates its leader for president (Iohannis is a case in point).
Another possibility would be the liberals’ vice president, Dan Motreanu, considered one of the "favourites" of the incumbent head of state.
The two main opposition parties - the Save Romania Union and the Alliance for the Union of Romanians - will probably run with their leaders Catalin Drula and George Simion.
Finally, former National Liberal Party leader and prime minister Ludovic Orban, who recently formed a centre-right Force of the Right party, became the first one to declare his intention to run for president in the next elections.