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18 March 2016

True facts on youth, voting issues and revolutionary bursts in Romania

Posted by: Petra Pintelei, Volunteer Light Into Europe, NGO

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I am young.... Should I be glad about it? Well, to be honest I myself do not have any idea on the matter. I have been trying to get through life with my own issues and preferences, building my own wall until some time ago. When I was in secondary school, by the time I was like 15 or 16 I used to listen to a lot of bragging schoolmates chit-chatting about policy-making in our state. I did NOT understand a thing. I would just go home, do some research and I would end up two times more confused... That is why I chose to just keep things to myself for a while... Little did I know that most of them were just reproducing words that they heard at home about leaders and people who made mistakes in their important speeches. The funny part about all this is that without knowing I started studying some human features and grew more attentive to the environment around me. A nice episode that struck me later on in life were the 2010 presidential campaigns when Traian Băsescu, our former president who was already trying to go for his second chance of ruling this wonderful country was opposed by another politician, Mircea Geoană. I did not follow and did not understand too much about campaigns or propaganda at the time so I took for granted all that I heard in school. Some people said that Mr. Geoană would be better because he is a man of culture and because only elderly people would vote for Mr. Băsescu. However, the latter won the presidential campaign for the second time in a row and the supreme conclusion of all that which sounded like a horror scenario from a conspiratory movie was the agreement between all teens that: * that is what America wanted! This is why our country cannot have a good president! * But this was not a bad thing for most of the pro-Americans around me. At that age, though, it is difficult to really be able to decide on what to choose in terms of political preferences so I was later to learn that it was only the process of political socialization that the kids were put through since a very young age. 

   After graduation I went for International Relations, a university profile which includes political studies. There I really got the chance in my first year to learn about what it all really meant. I found out what the left and the right were as ideological views, I really understood what the true link between an individual and his or her political views and since I was of age to vote for every kind of round of elections I started looking up political programs and trying to find out what my views were. I for one consider myself a leftist. Not an extreme one of course but I empathise with the values and concepts promoted by the left side of the ideological views. But that did not mean I had to vote for everything that was linked to the left so I chose to be a moderate.

Most fortunately for my experience in 2015 I had to experience my first go at the presidential campaign.  

The first voting session was not really understandable to me. I just voted out of pure pleasure for having read the political programs of all the candidates. Up to the second voting round there were only two of them standing. There was the leftist Victor Ponta and the right liberal Klaus Iohannis. Both of them were very big in the campaign and people had a lot of disputes on whom will finally win the elections. The funniest thing is that I started asking people questions about why would they choose one in favour of the other.  

I heard some inoculations of how Victor Ponta had radical communist views, how he was a former undercover agent of the external Secret Services and how he stole scientific work claiming it to have been his doctoral thesis. His counterpart, Klaus Iohannis had a rather positive aura around him as he was considered to be a good leader under a stereotype. As he is of German descent and a former mayor of Sibiu, one of the touristic cities in Romania, his PR managers did a great job with all that, saying he would be a great leader for the country due to what he did there in Sibiu and that German people are always correct with work, always on time for a meeting, always calm but firm in everything they are set to doing the right thing. I, for one, voted after having read the political presentations and everything else I was interested as to know what each politician wanted to prove in the country. However, what I saw amongst the youth, 10 out of 20 people would vote for Klaus Iohannis not because they would like him but because they wanted to vote against Victor Ponta.

Abroad, the Romanians living in other countries were vivid supporters of Klaus Iohannis and it was suspected that they had restricted access to the national voting points that were arranged in countries like Spain and Italy, so our youth went out in the main square in a huge protest for the ones abroad to have their voting rights granted equally.

Although Klaus Iohannis came out as president he did some disappointing things at the start of his time as head of the state because his promise was to arrange for a better education however he made a decision about more money to be invested in security and military structures. In theory, the Constitution claims that a president is only in charge of external relations and national security as much as the law suggests, but Mr. Iohannis wanted to go over the top with his power, making some abusive moves against the prime minister at the time, his ex-counterpart Mr. Ponta.

After all that political change in the country even if I personally did not take part in any elaborate research, I came to one simple conclusion. The youth which is considered to be the ‘future of this country’ and other funny words that can be said all over again as a motivational flag of the generation, was supposed to have had some good sense talked into them. The majority, as much as I knew and heard, voted because of some money in the campaign which also tells us that our country is very little equipped to sustain youth work and employment. Thus, the youngsters have to do whatever they can to grab some petty jobs unless they end up working wherever and under so-called whatever conditions. 

Later on, at the end of 2015, the ‘Colectiv’ club in Bucharest was under a fire incident. It was a great tragedy, but a greater one was yet to come. As some might know the story, a nightclub got burning fires when a rock group was performing a song on their new album. Forensic investigation somehow came to the result that corruption was to be blamed, because the club was functional although safety was not guaranteed under the conditions in which the spot was evaluated...WOW! Incredible! After that there was a torrent of frustration from our youth going on the streets after some very well calculated social engineering. They started to say that they wanted no more corruption in this country and from the tragedy at the club they not only desired safe spaces but also larger incomes, better schools and why not a: NEW GOVERNMENT. Social media such as Facebook (which I was vividly following at the time) were full of posts such as * the great rockers and metalheads are changing this country! This is a revolution! Yeah!!!* 

  Great revolutionary spirit.... too bad it was so badly designed because some bunch of youngsters came up with the word * technocracy* as to define the ideal government bathed in a fragrance of utopia. Problem was that most people thought technocracy was supposed to be some kind of anarchy or something that would make different political parties but with new people... Well they got what they wanted because the current government has come by revolutionary request... big issue now... the elections in 2016 for another government so no matter what these young ones wanted to do the time is too short for that radical change they had once expected.  This new government came up after Victor Ponta, the former prime minister, decided he was way too bored of being exposed on television and laughed at about so many things so he got to say that he would enjoy some moments in the shadows laughing at others finding themselves under scrutiny.

We are living in this country where the youth have close to no real information about what politics is really all about although the faculties are full of pseudo-culture and true info. Eventually we all get to have a moment in life when we are bragging about something especially about how to elect or how to judge international relations... the main question still stands up in the back of my mind like a true life philosophy... To vote or not to vote?... If you vote now... what will make the difference later?... maybe such questions are never to be answered in a clear technical way but I wish to see it all in facts as I grow up among my generation... I wish to see not if policies and politicians are worth a vote, for this is not always the case we want to solve, I want to see if as we grow up we manage to become more aware of things, if we really can learn how to become responsible and if we can truly understand that we are not actually voting for or against an individual but we have to pick even subjectively but in a well-argued manner for ourselves and not because of alternative unproductive reasons...

  I will end up this fairytale with a real story... when asked by my history teacher in my first university year about what I could do in order to create a perfect society I said I would like to gather the people with a right to vote and play a test on them on basic political culture questions... I know it might sound harsh but I do not know if everyone is capable to understand why we have elections, why we vote and what we want to do in our future. I do not believe that my vote makes the difference it might as well not be so but neither do I like to go on tons of democracy workshops just for a fancy Facebook post.

To give my honest opinion, at the end of the day we all have to look for what is best not in order to make it be the best thing but in order to really find an answer to some questions without giving way to propaganda or to nonsense talk... Further, I suggest our generation can find some pretty good arguments for voting because I am ready to share mine without taking pictures of sharing leaflets out in the rain or acting the clown for someone to get richer every month with the help of manipulation techniques... Being thankful for this writing I send over a little bit of smiling hope and sunshine for the following elections... Maybe we manage to make it worth as time teaches us how to do so!