A moonwalking politician might not be the best reason to pay attention to Romanian politics, but the antics seem to be working.
Edmond Talmacean, a 40-year-old Bucharest politician, has inspired national headlines with his Michael Jackson-inspired moonwalk on a television show and his impersonations of the late dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. His impersonation of a well-known sports commentator during a serious political debate also stunned other lawmakers into silence.
"Dancing is another kind of political message to appeal to the younger generation, that it is good to have fun ... that you can go to a disco and dance," Talmacean told The Associated Press on Monday.
Party bosses, however, say enough is enough and have ordered him to tone down.
Prime Minister Emil Boc declared the routine was more suited to "showbiz" than politics, while Vasile Blaga of the Democratic Liberal Party said the fringe lawmaker should head over to the TV program "Dancing with the Stars."
Despite the official disapproval, Talmacean is trending big time, gossiped about in coffee bars and hairdressing shops. Traffic to his political blog has soared, boosting it from 49th most viewed to the seventh in just two weeks.
"I think he expressed the way he felt which is good," said Valentina Tudor, 25, a sandwich vendor in Bucharest, the capital. "It's not as if he stole or did something bad. He is talented. I can't imagine (President) Basescu doing the moonwalk."
In Romania, the home of Dracula and other occult traditions, politics are renowned for being occasionally off-the-wall. President Traian Basescu and his aides have been known to wear purple on certain days to ward off evil.
Politician Mircea Geoana claimed that he lost the 2009 presidential race because Basescu hired a parapsychologist to launch a "negative energy attack" on him during a key debate.
Basescu has also appeared dancing with his wife or jiving with Gypsies _ but his moves are far from Internet gold.
Talmacean promised Monday to keep a low profile until party elections next month but says he has no regrets.
"I danced, I sang. These are the qualities of the Romanian people," he told the AP.