The Cîrstoiu experiment

The Cîrstoiu experiment

It seems that the director’s office of the University Hospital is a stepping stone at least towards the candidacy for the position of mayor of the Capital, if not for the position itself. Sorin Oprescu occupied it, and Cătălin Cîrstoiu is leaving there for the electoral adventure.

But the similarities between the two, if anyone bet on them, mostly stop at that office. Sorin Oprescu was not primarily a doctor or a manager, but a politician. He first lost the Mayor’s office of the Capital to Traian Băsescu (what epic battles this city once had!), he was a senator, so he was a trained and very skilled fighter.


It is hard to say at the moment if Mr. Cîrstoiu has the talent for this type of arena. One thing is certain, he doesn't have the training. And the model that Bucharesters clearly prefer, judging by the electoral results, is the Oprescu - Băsescu type. I don't think Mr. Cîrstoiu fits that mold, but he has a rival who is dangerously approaching him.

What Mr. Cîrstoiu's strengths are is still hard to say, we don't even know his starting percentages in terms of notoriety, trust, and voting intention.

The only certain thing is that he doesn't alienate any of the electoral bases that should support him, as a party cardholder would have. But that doesn't mean he will succeed in getting them to vote.


And the fact that his campaign manager will be Gabriela Firea doesn't help at all. Honestly, I don't think Mrs. Firea will go to great lengths to prove that Marcel Ciolacu was right not to fight for his candidacy.

Sure, the offer to lead the campaign is meant to attach Mrs. Firea to the candidate and his potential failure, but I believe that for Mrs. Firea, the satisfaction of failure would be much greater than her price.

Beyond the parties' mobilization, whatever it may be, the one who, in an individual scrutinized with maximum visibility, must bring the people to vote, especially in the ambitious Bucharest, is the candidate himself, Mr. Cîrstoiu.


I don't think the major obstacles will come from the issues he started with, primarily Colectiv - "we have everything."

The big danger comes from the lack of political experience, lack of media training, and deep unfamiliarity with Bucharest. He will have to face two candidates who know the city very well, both Nicușor Dan and (based on current data) Cristian Popescu Piedone.

The risk of experiencing something like Mircea Geoană with the famous "which sector is Măgurele in?" is not negligible at all.

Bucharest is either about parking lots, traffic, pipes, the garbage dump, and equally sexy things, or about charisma, rhetorical talent, and stage presence. Which of these will Mr. Cîrstoiu use to bring the Bucharesters to vote remains to be seen.

If he doesn't succeed with either, no matter how hard the campaign teams try, even if they try, his potential electorate will split between Nicușor Dan, the liberal side, and Piedone, the PSD side.

What is certain is that for the leadership of the two parties, Mr. Cîrstoiu presents the great advantage of offering a situation of victory vs. semi-defeat.

If he wins, the two parties will claim victory. If he loses, not being a party member, he will remain the sole culprit. A party member candidate, let alone a party leader, reflects the defeat back onto the party, but an independent candidate must bear it alone.

Personally, I don't think Marcel Ciolacu prevented Gabriela Firea from running for fear that she would win and then take over the party. Gabriela Firea's chances of winning were minimal precisely because she had no more room for growth, but she generated a record level of mobilizing hatred.

For Marcel Ciolacu, it was even preferable for Mrs. Firea to lose rather than to attack him in case of the candidate's defeat for which she was sidelined. But Mrs. Firea's defeat would have been a party member's defeat, a top PSD official at the beginning of an electoral year. The risk and cost were too high.

If "Cîrstoiu experiment" succeeds at the local level, we may see it replicated in the presidential elections for which neither party has a candidate with substantial chances. 

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