Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
|Office:||President of Romania|
|Term of Office:|
|Date of Birth:||Sunday, November 4, 1951|
|Place of Birth:||Basarabi, Constanţa|
Traian Băsescu (born November 4 1951) is a Romanian politician. He is the current President of Romania, since December 20 2004. He became President after winning the 2004 presidential election. He was the Mayor of Bucharest from June 2000 until December 2004, when he resigned to become president.
Traian Basescu was born in Basarabi, a small town near Constanţa, the biggest port in Romania. His father's family originated from Băseşti, a village in Maramureş. One of his former teachers in high-school remembered him claiming to be a member of the same family as Gheorghe Pop de Băseşti (1835–1919), a Romanian politician who fought for the unification of Transylvania with the Kingdom of Romania and was the president of the Alba-Iulia assembly of 1918, where that union was declared.
Commercial ship captain
Băsescu graduated the Navy Institute of Constanţa in 1976 and became a Merchant Marine Officer at Navrom, the Romanian state-owned shipping company. Between 1981 and 1987 he was the captain of Romania's flagship oil tanker, Biruinţa, the largest ship of the Romanian fleet. Then, until 1989, he headed the Navrom Agency in Antwerp.
Minister of Transport
After the downfall of Communism, he entered politics as a member of the short-lived National Salvation Front (FSN), and, subsequently, of the Democratic Party (PD). He was elected president of PD in 2001, defeating Petre Roman.
Băsescu served as Minister of Transport from 1991 to 1992 in Theodor Stolojan's technocratic government, and then again from November 1996 to June 2000 in the governments of Victor Ciorbea, Radu Vasile, and Mugur Isărescu.
Mayor of Bucharest
In 2000 he was elected to the office of mayor of Bucharest, winning the run-off against the PDSR's candidate, Sorin Oprescu , by a very slim margin (50.69% to 49.31%), despite trailing 24% behind him in the first round. He obtained a second term in office in the 2004 Bucharest elections, winning 54.9% of the votes in the first round; the runner-up Mircea Geoană, of the PSD (the successor party to the PDSR) received only 29.7%. His activity as Bucharest's mayor is considered to be the best since the earthquake in 1977. He is credited for the reduction (albeit using very drastic measures such as large scale euthanasia) in numbers of ownerless dogs (known as ''câini comunitari, "community" dogs) roaming freely among the streets of the city from aproximately 200,000-300,000 in 2000 to 25,000 in 2004, and thus in the number of dog bite injuries from 1500/day to under 200/day; (source : The Administration for Animal Contol -ASA- of the Mayor's Office of Bucharest, 2003) for improvments to the water and lighting systems (which were in a very bad state) (source: Bucharest's Mayor's Office ; and for the modernisation of public transportation in the city. He was criticized for not repairing the road system in the city, but that is claimed to be due to governmental (he was a member of the opposition) chicanery both at the upper and lower levels.
President of Romania
Following Theodor Stolojan's surprise retreat from the 2004 presidential elections, Băsescu entered the presidential race on behalf of the Justice and Truth alliance (forged by the National Liberal Party and his Democratic Party). His principle rival for the office was Adrian Năstase, like Băsescu a former Communist Party member, who was the incumbent prime minister and PSD party president. Although Năstase won the first round by 7%, Băsescu achieved a surprise comeback and won the December 12 run-off by a 2.46% margin, receiving 51.23% percent of the vote.
In October 2004, at the peak of this election campaign, in answer to a question on a talk-show, he voiced his support for legalization of same-sex marriage. He was the first political candidate in Romania to support the gay cause to that extent. Later in the campaign, the PSD used this affirmation against him.
As a navy officer and captain, Băsescu was accused of involvement with the Communist regime's infamous Securitate, but no evidence for this was produced. In fact he was not accused of taking part in political police actions but rather in commercial espionage . In the live TV debate with Năstase before the 2004 run-off presidential election, Băsescu caught his opponent off-guard with the following confession: "You know what Romania's greatest curse is right now? It's that Romanians have to choose between two former Communist Party members."
During his tenure as Minister of Transport, the Romanian commercial fleet was privatised at a price that was generally viewed as disadavntageous to the Romanian state. This is widely known in Romania as The Fleet Affair (Dosarul Flota). Charges were made against him with regards to this affair, but no evidence of his involvement was proven. In 1996, while under scrutiny, Băsescu resigned his parliamentary mandate in order to allow judicial procedures against him to be carried on (Romanian MP's were, by default, granted immunity from prosecution). Due to conflicting possible interpretations of the phrasing of the Constitution, the High Court of Cassation and Justice will have to decide if Băsescu's immunity as a President covers only actions during his term as president or extends to prior activities. The Constitution states that the President has immunity and that a previous article regarding MP's immunity over matters regarding their votes or statements made while holding office. Although the lawsuit against him was closed due to lack of evidence, it was reopened in early 2004, in what many consider to be a political maneuver against him using the Anti-corruption Prosecutor's Bureau, an institution his supporters claim has been used mostly for political reprisals against anti-PSD campaigners.
- Basescu.ro: Official site (only in Romanian)
- Traian Basescu's short biography on the Bucharest City Hall site
- Traian Basescu's Curriculum Vitae (only in Romanian)
- BBC Profile: Traian Basescu
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