Plot twist in Bucharest’s mayoral race: Coalition leaders sidestep notables for unknown…

Sursa Foto: Inquam Photos/ Octav Ganea

Plot twist in Bucharest’s mayoral race: Coalition leaders sidestep notables for unknown Cătălin Cîrstoiu in strategic power play

Marcel Ciolacu and Nicolae Ciucă can breathe a sigh of relief. After a long search, they’ve found a candidate without political ambitions, neither too liberal nor too Social Democratic, somewhat aligned with the Băsescu faction through alliance and his father’s political stance, with zero experience in public administration. The two leaders primarily sought a candidate who, if he wins the Capital, wouldn’t jeopardize their leadership positions in the PNL or PSD. I’ve already explained why, so I won’t go back into it.

In his dual role as manager at a state hospital and shareholder in a private clinic owned with his wife, it can be said he has some business and managerial experience, but the Capital is more than just a patient.

The last doctor who tried to treat Bucharest with the corrupt doctor’s recipe ended up caught with envelopes stashed with cash on him. Today, he hides in Greece from his prison sentence. Sorin Oprescu, also from the University Hospital, left behind a metastasizing patient, the cancer that his colleague Cătălin Cîrstoiu talks about today. Gabriela Firea as mayor almost unplugged the patient. Nicușor Dan barely managed to resuscitate it in his first term and keep him alive on life support.

Publicitate electorală

Doctor Cătălin Cîrstoiu appears as a professional in his orthopedic profession. No one disputes his qualities. However, his notoriety in the Capital tends towards zero. Who had heard of him until recently? He himself admits he had no time for interviews. In the few public appearances after announcing his candidacy, he managed to display an arrogance hard to conceal, accompanied by a very good opinion of himself.

„I work too much. Too dynamic. I arrive first and leave last at the hospital. It will be the same at the city hall,” Cîrstoiu replied when asked how he would describe himself.

Despite the awkwardness inherent to his first public appearances, Cîrstoiu should not be underestimated by his opponents. He is quasi-anonymous, but there are still two and a half months until the elections. Can he recover the notoriety deficit with an aggressive campaign? It’s hard to believe, but not impossible.

Look beyond the arrogance, and you’ll see a good speaker, with contacts almost everywhere as any doctor that journalists, politicians, celebrities have called upon. The classic type: a network man, unknown to the general public, but very well connected. His father was the mayor of Pitești, a parliamentarian from the PD party. So, he doesn’t come from nowhere.

Radu Tudor, the host at Antena 3, emphasized during the interview that he has a special relationship with Doctor Cîrstoiu, who responded to calls from several colleagues in the trust.

He seems like a non-confrontational candidate, avoids abrupt expressions, and seeks to maintain cordial relations even with his adversaries. Relevant in this regard is his characterization of Nicușor Dan, whom he said is a good mathematician and whose intelligence he admires. Even about Piedone, he said, „He is a hardworking man,” avoiding returning his attacks. It will be quite difficult for Nicușor Dan to address such a colorless and versatile adversary.

It remains to be seen if he will manage to convince the two parties to rally behind him. The relationship by marriage to Traian Băsescu is not necessarily to his advantage. The former president supports Nicușor Dan.

For now, it is entirely unclear who pulled Cătălin Cîrstoiu out of the hat and placed him on the table of PNL and PSD as a joint candidate. However, we can understand why. Marcel Ciolacu’s goal was to block Gabriela Firea’s path to another term at the Capital’s city hall. A potential victory would have endangered his position as PSD leader. Ciolacu was most afraid that Firea would run for Cotroceni if she won Bucharest.

It’s noteworthy that Firea fought with the party president until the last second, something other PSD members haven’t done lately. Now, Firea, emerging from the scandal of the „horror care homes” that threatened to end her political career, is placed third at the European Parliament elections. A political performance in itself. It’s interesting to see who Ciolacu will install as the head of PSD Bucharest after Gabriela Firea exits the stage.

All information indicates that the launch of Cristian Popescu Piedone as an independent candidate was indeed supported by PSD. It doesn’t seem to be a maneuver by Dan Voiculescu’s PUSL, as many might think. Everything points to a chess move by the PSD, led by Marcel Ciolacu, to discourage a potential independent candidacy from Gabriela Firea. Two independent corridor candidates would not have fit; they would have sabotaged each other.

It’s enough to see who, besides Antena 3, heavily promoted Piedone’s candidacy. A mogul very close to Ciolacu massively supported him. With Gabriela Firea being taken out of the mayoral race, Piedone’s media exposure is expected to decrease, and he is expected to eventually withdraw from the race. His role has concluded.

Piedone will not be the secretly supported candidate of the PSD, as some might be tempted to believe. If they wanted to do that, they wouldn’t have bothered with Cîrstoiu; they would have directly supported Piedone. Without the backing of the two major parties, the District 5 mayor has slim chances of winning the Capital, even though in Nicușor Dan’s polls, for example, he appears as his main opponent.

It remains to be seen how Piedone will be rewarded for the role he played in discouraging Gabriela Firea from insisting on an independent candidacy. What we know so far is that the mayor requested his son be supported by the PSD as a candidate for the mayoralty of District 5 and for his daughter, a position as a Member of the European Parliament on the joint PSD-PNL lists. In District 5, PSD supports Rareș Hopincă, a close associate of Prime Minister Ciolacu, and Piedone’s daughter does not appear on the European Parliament lists.

In any case, the way PSD and PNL have nominated their candidate for the Bucharest mayorship, the crown jewel in any local election, is at least strange. Betting on a quasi-anonymous candidate when attacking a city with a budget of 10 billion lei, which sends an important political signal in the country, sacrificing party candidates with greater chances, appears at least bizarre.

The risk of PSD and PNL losing the capital is significantly higher than if they had gone with Gabriela Firea as a joint candidate. What will Ciucă and Ciolacu say if they lose Bucharest? That they helped Nicușor Dan win to keep their leadership positions? Or that the decision came from outside the party?

Even now, no one from the two parties can say how Doctor Cîrstoiu landed on the coalition’s table with the mission to run for the Bucharest mayorship in a doctor’s coat.

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