Sunday

19th Nov 2017

Focus

Romanian renegade bids for EP seat

  • Mircea Diaconu - running as an independent for a seat in the EP (Photo: wikimedia commons)

A Romanian politician running as an independent in the EU elections could be heading for an EP seat, helped by backing from a powerful media group facing indictment for blackmail.

A Comunist-era actor and theatre executive, Mircea Diaconu was a politician in the National Liberal Party (PNL), rising to become Minister of Culture for a few months in 2012.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

However Romania's political wealth and assets watchdog, the National Integrity Agency (ANI), declared that his role as a paid official was incompatible with his job as executive director of a theatre.

A court backed this assessment in 2012, banning him from running for public office for three years.

Diaconu was also under investigation for conflict of interests because he helped his wife land a job in his theatre.

Originally set to run as an MEP for the Liberals (PNL), the party removed him from its MEP list and Diaconu pledged to run as an independent.

He had a deadline of five days to collect 100,000 signatures to ensure his candidacy was legitimate.

As he began his quest for thousands of supporters, the actor cast himself as a lone warrior against evil.

"It is like in an American movie, a single man fighting with a huge, powerful, ruthless, cynical and unjust system," he said.

He collected the quota – and is now polling well as an independent, with between one and four per cent of the vote. He needs 5 percent to secure a seat in the EU assembly.

Diaconu had help to get him this far.

He was endorsed on TV by the Intact Media Group – one of Romania's largest media empires, financed and controlled by Dan Voiculescu, a politician and media mogul who is waging a personal war against anti-corruption prosecutors and ANI.

According to Ionut Codreanu, head of monitoring and research at Active Watch, a media analyst NGO, Diaconu was the "only independent candidate" who enjoyed the media support of Intact's TV station Antena 3 while he collected supporters for his candidacy.

Codreanu adds that a week before the deadline for collecting signatures, Antena 3 broadcast an intensive media campaign featuring its TV stars who "lined up every evening in prime time to make people endorse Diaconu".

They explained to the public that this was a campaign against the abuses of the regime of President Traian Basescu, a long-time foe of the media group's financier.

Dan Voiculescu himself was convicted with five years in prison for corruption – a decision he is appealing.

His media group is also indicted over a blackmail operation against a major Romanian internet company.

Voiculescu is the man behind a minuscule party, the Conservatives (PC), which piggy-backs on governing coalitions in Romania, due to the influence and outreach of his media interests.

Voiculescu has been accused by journalists, foreign investigators and researchers of managing the money of the former Communist secret police, the Securitate, and he was convicted by the supreme court of being a Securitate informer, using the codename ‘Felix’.

EP candidate runs on anti-gay ticket

While figures with a history of anti-homosexual discourse freely run as candidates for the European Parliament, gay people remain silent about their sexuality in Romania.

EUobserved

When two worlds collide

Two worlds collided at the end of last week. The shrill, uncompromising one of British politics and the technocratic, dry, world of the European Commission.

EUobserved

Schadenfreude and fire-walking in the EP

There was outright glee in the EP on Thursday. It was time to dust off everyone’s favourite German word for pleasure in the misfortune of others.

EU parliament approves Juncker commission

MEPs have approved Juncker's new EU commission, with a slightly smaller majority than in 2010, and following a number of concessions on portfolios.

News in Brief

  1. Bonn climate talks extend into Friday evening
  2. UK needs to move on Brexit by early December, Tusk says
  3. Puigdemont extradition decision postponed to December
  4. Ireland wants written UK guarantees to avoid hard border
  5. US did not obstruct climate talks, says German minister
  6. EU signs social declaration
  7. Puigdemont to be heard by Belgian judges
  8. Steep fall in migrants reaching EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  2. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic countries prioritise fossil fuel subsidy reform
  4. Mission of China to the EUNew era for China brings new opportunities to all
  5. ACCASmall and Medium Sized Practices Must 'Offer the Whole Package'
  6. UNICEFAhead of the African Union - EU Summit, Survey Highlights Impact of Conflict on Education
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Calls for Closer Co-Operation on Foreign Policy
  8. Swedish EnterprisesTrilogue Negotiations - Striking the Balance Between Transparency and Efficiency
  9. Access EuropeProspects for US-EU Relations Under the Trump Administration - 28 November 2017
  10. World Vision20 November: Exchange of Views at the EP on Children Affected by the Syria Crisis
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable Growth the Nordic Way: Climate Solutions for a Sustainable Future
  12. EU2017EEHow Data Fuels Estonia's Economy

Latest News

  1. EU keeps former Soviet states at arm's length
  2. EU leaders make pledge on social issues after populist backlash
  3. EU agencies and eastern neighbours This WEEK
  4. Germany slams Dutch call for more ambitious EU climate goal
  5. Mind the gap: inequality in our cities
  6. Climate activists 'disappointed' with EU at climate talks
  7. Davis outlines UK vision on Brexit in Berlin
  8. German coalition talks in near collapse