Elena Basescu, daughter of Romanian President Train Basescu and a candidate for election to the European Parliament, caused uproar in her country last week by saying she would favour legalisation of soft drugs such as cannabis. EurActiv Romania reports.
Elena Basescu, a 28-year old model, who is running as an independent candidate, told the 'Hard Talk' programme on the Antena 2 channel that if she were elected to the European Parliament, she would "probably agree" that light drugs such as cannabis should be legalised. Basescu explained that she had been studying in the US for a year and that, in her words, soft drugs were "legal" on campuses there.
The statements, made on 28 May, were taken up by the entire Romanian press and recalled memories of an earlier row, which saw Basescu sue a newspaper for reporting last year that she had taken narcotics. She denied the claims and ultimately won her case. The day after the 'Hard Talk' show, Basescu made new statements dismissing her previous comments. This time, the president's daughter said that "cannabis should not be legalised in our country, no matter if it is a considered soft drug or not, and no matter if it leads to addiction or not".
The Romanian Social Democratic party (PSD) seized the occasion to attack the president's daughter. "The statements by Elena Basescu about legalising soft drugs remind her father's affirmations, who said in 2004 that one in every five Romanians is a homosexual," a party spokesperson told EurActiv. He described the statements as "irresponsible", and recalled that soft drugs are illegal in every EU country. Indeed, even in the Netherlands, where cannabis is tolerated in so-called 'coffee shops', discussions are ongoing regarding its prohibition.
The PSD is represents one half of the two-pillar ruling coalition with the Democratic Liberal Party (PDL), a grouping close to President Basescu. However, the two alliance partners are also rivals, as PDL is affiliated to the centre-right European People's Party (EPP) while the PSD is a member of the Party of European Socialists (PES). Polls show that the two parties are running neck-and-neck ahead of Sunday's EU elections, recording around 30% each. The same poll reveals that the main uncertainty in Romania will be the performance of Elena Basescu.
The president's daughter first tried to launch her political career in the youth association of her father's party (EurActiv 27/02/09). After being criticised for that move, she decided to run as an independent candidate and gathered 200,000 signatures to support her candidacy, enjoying substantial support from the PDL in the process.