By Stefan J.  Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife

Members of the Romanian Roma minority cast their votes in Sintesti, Romania, Sunday, November 22, 2009. Via VOA News

BUCHAREST, ROMANIA (BosNewsLife)– Romanians vote Sunday, November 22, in a presidential election with president Traian Basescu and his main left-wing challenger tied in opinion polls. The international community hopes the vote will resolve a government crisis that has paralyzed Romania, which is facing a major economic crisis.

Sunday’s presidential ballot in Romania is closely monitored by the International Monetary Fund and the European Union. Both organizations have delayed installments of a $30 billion IMF-led rescue package for the country after last month’s collapse of its center-left government.

The Social Democrats quit the coalition to protest the dismissal of their interior minister for comments about possible election fraud. These remarks were seen as an accusation that the ruling Liberal Democrats might cheat to get Romania’s 58-year-old president, Traian Basescu, re-elected.

The IMF hopes that after the elections, the president will quickly appoint a new prime minister to tackle deep economic reforms, that critics say governments ignored since communism collapsed in 1989.

Romania urgently needs international aid to pay state sector salaries and pensions at a time when the economy is expected to shrink by up to eight percent this year.


President Basescu, a former sea captain, wants to be re-elected to in his words “steer the Romanian ship” through the current economic storm.

Speaking at a televised election debate Friday, November 20, Basescu said he deserves to receive another five-year term because he proved during his mandate that he is ready “to fight for more justice” and against corruption that has undermined the economy.

He also wants to reduce the number of lawmakers, saying a 471-member parliament is “too expensive” and even organized a referendum on this issue parallel with Sunday’s ballot.

Recent opinion polls have given Basescu about one-third of the vote, but that is only a slight edge over his main challenger Mircea Geoana.


The 51-year old Geoana, a former foreign minister who leads the leftist Social Democrats, received applause at Friday’s election debate, after saying he had a plan to tackle Romania’s economic crisis.

Geoana makes clear that even if he does not become president, he hopes his economic project will be implemented. It includes giving cheap credits to enterprises to help create jobs while also providing affordable housing  for young people.

Western organizations have made clear however that whoever wins Sunday’s ballot will face the prospect that real long-term economic growth can only be achieved with tough measures. They include IMF-backed plans to sack up to 150,000 of Romania’s 1.3 million public workers, freezing state wages  and cut pensions.

Some 1,000 local and international monitors are observing Sunday’s vote. As no candidate is expected to receive more than 50 percent of the vote , a final run-off election is scheduled for December. (BosNewsLife’s NEWS WATCH is a regular look at key news developments in especially (former) Communist and/or autocratic countries impacting the Church and/or compassionate professionals. Part of this BosNewsLife News story also airs via its affiliated Voice Of America (VOA) network. Follow BosNewsLife via Twitter).


  1. Dear Stefan,

    Your respect for the Roma minority of Romania is well known. When are you going to show the same respect of the Roma minority of Hungary? Their pictures are seldom posted, and they are never posted related to Hungarian elections. However, I can only see your efforts to denigrate by all means my country and to present it as a country of gypsies as the Hungarian nationalists do.

  2. Dear Adrian,

    We are posting pictures of Hungarian Roma as well. However, why is it “denigrating” to your country to show pictures of Roma in Romania? It makes me almost think you rather don’t see them…The photo capture clearly speaks of ‘Roma minority’ so your words that we “present” Romania “as a country of gypsies” seems rather strange. But even if Romania was a country of gypsies, what would be wrong with that? Having apparently followed our site for some time, you should know by now our critical reports about Hungarian nationalists and nationalism in general. BosNewsLife has nothing to do with Hungarian nationalists.

  3. Dear Stefan,

    You have been consistent in showing Roma’s pictures in articles not necessary related to them, while not showing pictures of the majority or of the other minorities. It is known that the gypsies are one of the most unfortunate European nationalities. Statistics show that they have lower socioeconomic status and higher criminality then any other ethnic groups. Unfortunately the European public associate them with these statistics. These facts can not be ignored, and it is not about discrimination it is the real truth. Since you claim that you are a Christian news agency I may remind you that even the Bible doesn’t ignore some defects of different ethnic groups (Titus 1:12).
    The public will associate the country with the only minority you keep posting on your articles. In other words the public will wrongly think that Romania is a country of gypsies only.

  4. Dear Adrian,

    Again, we have also posted different pictures and I don’t see anything wrong with pictures about Roma. That Bible verse you mentioned has NOTHING to do with the “defects of a different ethnic group.” It is about Paul writing a letter to his fellow worker Titus, who remained on Crete. Paul wanted to reach out to the Cretes with the Gospel! Paul writes in this chapter about his concern about false teachings within the Christian church. Paul was concerned that a group of Christians still insisted on keeping all aspects of the law of Moses while Jesus Christ came to free us from the burdens of that law (as nobody could keep the law). Jesus died and rose up from the death so everyone (including Roma and non-Roma) who believes in Him has eternal life, according to Bible (John 3:16).

    I would kindly suggest you read the whole text from verse 10. (Just for the record: With the ‘circumcision group’ Paul meant those who insisted that people wanting to be saved as a Christian had to face circumcision, as reflected in the Law). So Titus 10-15 says: 10For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. 11They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain. 12Even one of their own prophets has said, “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.” 13This testimony is true. Therefore, rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith 14and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the commands of those who reject the truth. 15To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.”

    However perhaps, as we spoke about Roma, its in this context even better to read Bible verse Luke 10:25-37 (New International Version) as it teaches perhaps something about how our attitudes should be to less fortunate people, let’s say Roma in Romania or Roma here in Hungary. At that time there were the Samaritans, who were despised by others. Jesus reached out to them in this Parable of the Good Samaritan

    25On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
    26″What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

    27He answered: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'[b]”

    28″You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

    29But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

    30In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two silver coins[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

    36″Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

    37The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
    Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

    Perhaps that helps.

    Best regards,


  5. Dear Stefan,

    It is hard to believe that you didn’t get my point. However, thank you for the Bible texts you shared with me even if they are not related to the subject. As I mentioned before, the issue was not the discrimination of gypsies. It was the public’s perception, a public that in majority is not aware of the Biblical principles you mentioned and has no idea that you personally might be. Your articles about Romanian elections are about politics only and Christian principles are never mentioned in them. Some of your articles are posted on VOA and are addressed to a large secular audience.

    Anyways, I hope that your future articles about Romanian people will reflect the nice principles you shared with me and will not be influenced by anybody’s mentality. This would imply of course a fair presentation in which any misleading issue has no place.



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