A heated dispute broke out yesterday in Bucharest’s General Council between Mayor Gabriela Firea and Councilman Ciprian Ciucu over the awarding of city contracts.
After alleging that Mr Ciucu was obsessed with her, the former news presenter turned politician offered to “introduce” him to her husband. She then threatened to publish a list of all spouses, children, and lovers of members of Ciucu’s National Liberal Party (PNL) employed by the city government.
Gabriela Firea sets of fireworks in Bucharest
The meeting got off to a contentious start when Ciucu tried to speak at the beginning but was shut down by Firea who claimed he was not following with council procedure.
Gabriela Firea then launched into a tirade against Ciucu and his fellow PNL councilmen, who were preparing to vote against a series of measures funding municipal companies.
“Do not be so agitated. I will publish a list of all your relatives and your friends. There are 40,000 city employees, we have a list of all relatives, friends, lovers of PNL, PDL councillors. These councillors oppose us, but their friends earn much money from the city government.
“I’m suing you. And I will not withdraw my suit as I did last time, neither me nor my husband. Stop sending people to me to tell me to withdraw the process.”
Firea also accused Ciucu of being obsessed with her, saying, “you are obsessed with me … but I do not think you’re a masochist, so I’ll introduce you to my husband.”
The meeting continued as planned, despite protests by the PLN members of the council. After the close of normal business, a Firea had promised, a vote was taken to launch a lawsuit against councillors who had opposed her measures.
Despite the allegations of mayoral obsession, the dispute on the General Council is really about money. The opposition PLN claims a series of municipal companies being set up by Firea and her ruling Social Democrats (PSD) lack transparency. Conversely, Firea argues that if the PLN is just being obstructionist. She says if they were so interested in reforming this type of company they could have done so when they were in power.
“If others acted illegally [in the past], it is their problem…We have to delegate public services. There is no greater transparency than these companies!” Firea insisted.
PLN councillor Cristian Olteanu tried to argue back, saying, “A year ago, we discussed your idea of setting up municipal companies. As I said then, the PNL was not against the idea of having commercial companies. But there is a huge difference between what I did then and what is happening now… please remove these projects from the agenda and schedule a special meeting on this subject.”
Gabriela Firea’s rise to prominence
Firea has been grabbing national attention in Romania since the 1990s, but normally without as much controversy as she attracted yesterday.
Starting as a journalist on a weekly paper in 1990, Firea quickly made the transition to a larger daily paper and then became editor in chief of Radio Contact in 1992. She then served as a financial correspondent on Romanian state television, TVR, until 1999.
She then published a novel in 2001, and began a serious political career in 2012 when she was elected to the Romanian Senate for Ilfov as a PSD candidate with 74% of the vote. She became party spokesperson in 2014, and then ran for mayor of Bucharest two years later.
Now part of one of Romania’s top political power couples, she is married to a Florentin Pandele, the mayor of Voluntari – a town of forty thousand northwest of Bucharest.
Considering her rapid rise in Romanian politics, it is probably just a matter of time before she aims at an even higher position than mayor of Bucharest. If that happens, she may soon be threatening to introduce Mr Pandele to many more opposition politicians.