Romanian jailed strongman’s girlfriend posts love poem on Instagram for his birthday

Foto: Irina Tănase/ Instagram

What do you give the man who once almost had everything, but is now confined to a prison cell?

Your heart? Even better, make a public gesture of it in grand literary style.

That’s what Irina Tanase did to wish boyfriend Liviu Dragnea a happy birthday.

She dedicated a poem to the former Social Democrat leader, not in a scented envelope, but on Instagram. A well-known sonnet by British poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning that starts” How do I love thee? Let me count the ways: and goes on “I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can count.”

A day out of prison was probably what he would have liked, but the public poem was probably the next best thing. Media reported that he’d been granted a day out of Rahova prison for his 57th birthday, but the plan was nixed by prison authorities at the last moment.

The poem posted on Instagram is another chapter in the political operetta that keeps the former Social Democrat boss in the public eye. Romanians have been either riveted, repelled or amused by the public relationship.

 “Repelled” is a strong word, for nobody has said there is anything remotely distasteful or dislikeable about the young woman, but simply being publicly and personally linked to Dragnea attracts disapproval.

Bucharest Mayor Gabriela Firea said Tanase “had helped a lot organizing humanitarian campaigns” and Viorica Dancila, the outgoing prime minister sat next to her at a party congress and went to visit Tanase in hospital.

At one point, Dragnea coyly_ some would say bravely_ tried to introduce his paramour to the Romanian public as the nation’s First Girlfriend (although he wasn’t president he was considered Romania’s most powerful politician), a twist on the First Lady theme which Romanians have been uneasy about since the days of Elena Ceausescu, the hated wife of the late Communist leader.

Media even reported rumors that someone called Irina would call various ministries and give unofficial orders. These reports were robustly denied by Dragnea, but they added to the intrigue.

Irina Tanase didn’t speak publicly, but Dragnea insisted he would marry her, at the right time, if she’d have him of course. It was a political soap opera, designed to keep people in suspense. Weddings are popular, and a lavish political wedding gets ratings.

But instead of a wedding, Dragnea was sentenced to 3 ½ years in prison for having two party members paid by a state agency for fake jobs.

So no wedding for now, but keep an eye on Instagram for more poetry.

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