Factory boss Olga Cristescu announced Saturday that she would run for Romania's presidency next month - the first woman in the race - and pledged to restore the country's shattered economy within three years.
"What convinced me to run for president was watching all the other candidates - they say they want to do everything, but they don't say how they intend to do it," she told Reuters in a telephone interview, her first with the media."If I win the elections, I intend to select a very good team and set the economy back on a straight course in two or three years," said Cristescu, who admires British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her economic policies.
An engineer in wood technology, she manages a factory with 2,000 workers making cabinets for radio and television sets. She said she had rescued it from the verge of bankruptcy and turned it into a prosperous business in six years.
"I think Romania could be brought back to a performing economy in much less time," she said.
Cristescu, in her 50s and married with a 27-year-old son, is the sixth candidate to enter the May 20 presidential election. She is the first independent candidate as well as the first woman.
The five others are established politicians, with interim President Ion Iliescu, an ex-Communist, the front-runner.
Cristescu described herself as a dark horse candidate with the odds against her as an independent without political experience or backing from established political parties. "I am a demanding boss, but not the bossy type," she said. "I am most demanding of myself."
In a separate development, Romania's provisional government has ordered newspapers to cut down their size in an attempt to muzzle criticism before the elections, the editor of the leading independent paper said Saturday.
Petre Mihai Bacanu, editor of Romania Libera, said he was told to reduce the number of pages from eight to six to save newsprint. Romania Libera is the only daily that regularly criticizes the Salvation Front and claims to offer equal space to all political parties.