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Profile: Adrian Nastase

  • Michael Shafir

Romanian Prime Minister Adrian Nastase, 54, received 40.94 percent of the vote in the first round of the presidential election on 28 November. (Traian Basescu received 33.92 percent of the vote, according to the Romanian Electoral Bureau.)

Born in Bucharest in July 1950, Nastase received a Ph.D. in international law in 1987. Under the previous regime, he held no public office but was (as of 1977) vice chairman of the semi-official Association for International Law and International Relations (ADIRI).

It was at ADIRI that he reportedly caught the eye of Silviu Brucan, a former Romanian ambassador to the United Nations and a signatory of the "letter of six" leaders dispatched by veteran Romanian Communist Party members to communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in March 1989. It was apparently Brucan who recommended Nastase to Ion Iliescu, Romania's future president, thus paving the way for lasting -- albeit not always smooth -- cooperation between the two.

Brucan, who resigned from the postcommunist National Salvation Front Council in 1990, has reported disappointment in his former protege. In a book published in 2004, Brucan accuses Nastase (nicknamed " Nastase patru case" [Nastse Four Houses] in rhymed, postcommunist Romanian city folklore) of corruption, a charge that Nastase has dismissed. Brucan suggests that Nastase has registered property under his wife Dana's name. Dana Nastase, Brucan notes, is the daughter of former Romanian Agriculture Minister and Ambassador to China Angelo Miculescu, who was "probably the richest man in Romania under Ceausescu."

Nastase was a member of the Provisional Council of National Union (a sort of unelected parliament that functioned in spring 1990) and was elected a parliamentary deputy representing the Iliescu-led national Salvation Front (FSN) in May 1990. He resigned as a lawmaker to become foreign minister in July 1990 and served in that position until October 1992 under Prime Ministers Petre Roman and, subsequently, Theodor Stolojan.

After the 1992 split of the FSN, Nastase followed Iliescu into the Democratic Front of National Salvation (FDSN), which eventually changed its name to the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR). The FDSN won a plurality in the 1992 elections, and Nastase became speaker of the lower house in October of the same year.

Following the defeat of the PDSR in the 1996 elections, Nastse became deputy speaker of that chamber. In 1993-97, he served as PDSR executive chairman, subsequently serving as first deputy chairman of the same formation in 1997-2000.

Following Iliescu's return to the post of president in 2000, Nastase assumed the PDSR chairmanship and served in that position between January 2001 and June 2002. The PDSR eventually merged with the Social Democratic Party of Romania, and Nastase became chairman of the unified Social Democratic Party (PSD) in June 2001.

He has served as prime minister since late 2000, after the PSD scored a victory in the parliamentary elections held in November of that year.