I was still in Romania and just 13 years old when the first free presidential elections were held in Romania in 1990. I don’t know if I should or should not use the “” sign in “free elections”. Many people were disoriented, afraid to choose differently, brainwashed by decades of communism. I remember being laughed at because my parents were openly not voting Iliescu. I remember that after Iliescu won my parents lost their last thread of hope. And I remember weeks later moving to The Netherlands and me ever since ignoring Romanian politics at any cost. For the rest of my life.
Until a few weeks ago. The Facebook pages of Romanian friends living abroad were filling with rage and disappointment. It was the first round of presidential elections and people abroad were cueing for 5-6 hours, standing in the rain, trying to vote. Embassies closed with hundreds of people still standing outside and being denied the right to vote. The public went mad. Also in Romania, the public opinion was shocked. Almost 25 years of democracy and still the right to vote was not a right, but a “favor”, indulged by the powers pulling strings.
For the first time I felt anger, I felt touched by troubles in Romanian politics. Because it was for the first time not about whether you or who you vote for, but it was about a fundamental right. And I felt also good, good to see that the public opinion in Romania cared. I do feel that voting is a right that counts and should be respected. Growing up in The Netherlands of course I voted as soon as I turned 18, for each Dutch election. I know people might not agree and think that that one vote means nothing. Well this picture below sums it up.
My choice of never bother with the Romanian elections and politics what so ever is a personal one, and not to be explained here. But after feeling the rage, feeling the vibe of my Romanian friends here, and within Romania too… today I went to vote. For the first time!
I am lucky and honest enough to say “chapeau” to the Romanian Embassy in The Hague. After their experience two weeks ago, they did their best. Tents to protect people from the rain, heating, coffee and tea, lots of helpful volunteers. So a big “way to go” for the Romanian officials in The Hague! But it is still sad, sad to see that people came from Belgium and Germany to vote here, because in those countries it was still a torture to vote. It’s sad to see that in London the cues are so big that the British press is writing about it.
And at the same time it is wonderful to see the support in Cluj, Bucharest, Timisoara… The solidarity and unity is overwhelming. People matter! Needless to say who I hope wins. It’s not about that, that I voted today. It’s about … 25 years later….freedom still matters!