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Presidential Campaign in Romania

By Bogdan Lefter

Bucharest, July 16 (RFE/RL) -- Now that ethnic Hungarian leader Gyorgy Frunda and nationalist leader Gheorghe Funar have announced their candidacies, the race for Romania's November presidential election is even more crowded.

At least 17 politicians and other personalities have announced, so far. The two most prominent: Emil Constantinescu, president of the opposition Democratic Convention coalition; and Petre Roman, president of the Democrat Party, and Romania's first post-communist prime minister. Roman is a member of parliament and will run as the candidate of another opposition coalition, the Social Democrat Union.

Our Bucharest correspondent reports two other candidates are expected to run. Incumbent President Ion Iliescu, supported by the main governing Party of Social Democracy, has not yet officially announced his candidacy, but is expected to do so soon. And a candidate of the recently established National Liberal Alliance, which is viewed as playing a moderate-liberal role in Romania's political spectrum. The leaders of each of the Alliance's two founding parties are mentioned as candidates. They are: Senator Nicolae Manolescu, president of the Civic Alliance Party; and parliamentary deputy Horia Rusu, president of the Liberty Party '93.

Correspondents currently view Iliescu, Constantinescu, Roman and the newly established Alliance's likely candidate as the only candidates with a reasonable chance of winning the presidency.

Among others who have announced they will run are several nationalist leaders. Senator Adrian Paunescu, vice president of the Socalist Labor Party, who is a populist and the former court poet of former state and party leader Nicolae Ceausescu. Senator Corneliu Vadim Tudor, president of the Greater Romania Party. And, Senator Ion Coja of the Democrat Agrarian Party.

Frunda is the ethnic Hungarian Democratic Union's first presidential candidate. Our corrrespondent reports the ethnic Hungarian party's current strategy is to hope to influence one of the candidates in second-round voting to adopt a policy that will benefit ethnic Hungarians.

Several other well known politicians are running to promote party messages, such as: Radu Campeanu, a former vice president of Romania's Senate and president of a faction of the National Liberal Party; and Tudor Mohora, president of the Socialist Party, which was established as a reformist faction of the old Socialist Labor Party.

Several other personalities have announced an intention to run. Novelist Paul Goma, the most prominent Romanian anti-communist dissident. Goma has been called Romania's "Solzhenitsyn," but, after going into self-imposed exile in Paris in 1977, has never returned to Romania. There is also retired General Nicolae Militaru, a hero of the 1989 Revolution and the first post-communist Defense Minister. Orthodox clergyman Nutu Anghelina, who is known for his gifts as manager of a food shop based in a building owned by Romania's Patriarch. Whether he will be allowed to run, because of Church objections, is not known. And, there is self-professed healer Constantin Mudava, who has said he has providential guidance for a role in Romania's history.

It is unclear how many of these or other potential candidates will be able to gather the 100,000 signatures required by electoral law to be registered officially as candidates.