How not to do an election The 2014 presidential elections were a pyrrhic victory for western values in post-Communist Romania.
On 2 November 2014, election day, we woke up in Stepney, the East End of London, fed the cat, ate breakfast and turned on the Romanian news to see how the election was going. The two hours time difference (it’s earlier in the UK) meant the vote was well under way. I had planned this day for weeks and it was finally here: we’d go out and vote for our president today, at the Romanian Cultural institute in 1 Belgrave Square, London, the poshest of posh addresses. Anastasia and I were proud of being in a fine place in the world with our homeland not too far away. We had just returned from Romania a couple of weeks before on a three hour flight. Even Bobby, the tomcat we adopted from Bengali neighbours down the road was proud to be living with Romanians. I wore a smart green shirt and she put on makeup and a nice evening coat.
It was pouring by 1pm but we didn’t care. We still carried the morning’s sunshine inside ourselves. On the way I called two friends to make sure they went out to vote too. Both said they were on their way to Brent Civic Centre, a polling station the Romanian Government set up next to the instantly recognisable Wembley Stadium. In Belgrave Square, at a little after two 2 pm, there must have been 1,000 people queuing. We traced the queue from the door of the Romanian Cultural Institute (ICR) along the street and then around the corner up to the adjoining street and the other corner of Wilton Crescent and Wilton Terrace, where it stopped. We stood at the end of the queue, excited to see a mostly young crop of Romanians. “I had no idea there were so many of us turning up,” I said. “I’m feeling rather proud of this crowd,” I added. “Yes, and everyone’s looking good. But we’ll be here for a while,” she said
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