What are Romanians' expectations for the future president? The anti-Iohannis sentiment is strong. Which candidate has the best image (Analysis)

What are Romanians' expectations for the future president? The anti-Iohannis sentiment is strong. Which candidate has the best image (Analysis)

The new President of Romania must show involvement and attachment, concludes an analysis conducted by sociologist Barbu Mateescu, following a qualitative research carried out by IRES.

Participants in the research feel that these aspects are lacking in the current political class or in the current officeholder. In this context, the term „patriotism” has been intensively used, even by individuals who strongly reject nationalism.

Representing the country abroad is also considered a role of great importance.

Instinctively, citizens are seeking a person in contrast with the current president. Thus, preferences have been expressed for:

– a young person
– Traian Băsescu („the one from the past” – woman, 30 years old, rural Transylvania)
– Victor Ponta (as an alternative that was not followed in 2014)
– a woman („it would be worth letting a woman take over the country. It has never happened” – man, 35 years old, urban Moldova)
– Vadim Tudor (name mentioned by some participants with medium education).

The anti-Iohannis sentiment is strong in society – disappointment towards the current president spreading onto politics in general and the main parties as such.

To possess or emphasize possessing attributes similar to Klaus Iohannis represents a dangerous path for any presidential candidate, as the public’s preference is decidedly for a change of course.

Other potential presidents mentioned by participants come from outside the Social Democratic Party (PSD) or extremist circles. These are personalities outside the central institutions and political decision-making centers: Emil Boc (the Mayor of Cluj Napoca City) and Dacian Cioloș (former prime minister and now member of the European Parliament)  were both mentioned by participants from Moldova.

The research was conducted within 7 focus groups, in Bucharest, an cities in Moldova, and three in rural Transylvania. The participants were individuals interested in the presidential elections, determined to vote or undecided, not strongly attached to any particular party, not from the AUR or SOS electorates (two extremist parties).

Mircea Geoană, the best image

Mircea Geoană by far has the best image among all tested personalities, with the current research confirming the results of opinion polls conducted by various institutes in the past 6 months.

The fact that Mircea Geoană is not a member of any political party makes a difference, as there is no political brand that could pull him down.

The public image management of Mircea Geoană has been impeccable up to this point, with participants outside Bucharest emphasizing his intelligence and level of education.

The fact that Mircea Geoană holds a high position in the NATO hierarchy represents a major validation in Romanian eyes.

Marcel Ciolacu

Marcel Ciolacu’s notoriety is higher than that of any other leader measured in this research.

Antipathy towards the PSD continues to be an important factor for many voters, transferring onto Ciolacu, especially in Bucharest and Transylvania.

Characterizations such as „ridiculous”, „parallel”, „unserious”, „monkey”, „corrupt”, „thief”, or „political upstart” abound in the electoral bases that led Klaus Iohannis to victory in 2014 and 2019.

Nicolae Ciucă

The leader of the National Liberal Party (PNL) is perceived in the collective mindset as lacking will or autonomy, with the characterization of „puppet” obsessively recurring in focus groups from Transylvania and Moldova.

In particular, in Moldova, characterizations were harsh: „silly”, „inappropriate”, „clownish”, „lacking charisma”, „submissive”.

His past in the Army is seen as a positive attribute in the eyes of Bucharest residents with higher education, with a significant part of them perceiving him positively: „honest”, „disciplined”, „serious”. Among other categories of research participants, Nicolae Ciucă’s identity as a former military has negative effects.

A future where Nicolae Ciucă is president is universally seen as unsatisfactory.

Cătălin Drulă

The USR (main Opposition party) president faces a different problem than the other politicians covered in this study: a serious lack of notoriety, with the vast majority of participants not reacting in any way to his name.

George Simion and Diana Șoșoacă

The image of the two has been overwhelmingly negative – unsurprising given that research participants were expressly selected from outside the AUR/SOS electorates.

The excessively dynamic behavior of the two has been repeatedly characterized in terms such as „noisy”, „circus performer”, „scandalous”, „agitation”, „trumpet”.


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