Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Romania's governing coalition launches "coup d'etat" -


This link to HotNews two hours ago says it all.

Romania's governing alliance of Liberals and Social Democrats (USL) launched a massive series of moves on state institutions and key people in the Parliament, the Constitutional Court and the People's Lawyer (Ombudsman) on Tuesday. The moves fall in line with the phases of an action plan by USL - first presented by HotNews.ro in its Romanian version - to suspend President Traian Basescu, who the USL leaders see as the main obstacle in their taking over effective power in the country. Opposition leaders decried on Tuesday what they called a "coup d'etat" and a major attack on the Constitution and the state of law.

Thanks to Sarah Jay for drawing my attention to this explanation by journalist Dan Tapalaga of the plans the government has announced: 

Ponta and Antonescu are removing the Ombudsman [People's Lawyer], the judges from the Constitutional Court, the Presidents of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. Vasile Blaga's replacement is a crucial move, because he is the second man in the state, and should the President of the country be suspended, the President of the Senate would become the interim at Cotroceni Presidential Palace. Very probably, Crin Antonescu will take Blaga's place....

This blitzkrieg attack on the democratic institutions, crushing the rules of the games looks more like a South American coup d'├ętat than a democratic game in an EU member country. The Mexicanization of Romania, the country that has just ardently voted a character that has the reputation of being a major corrupt individual, starts today. The crooks' revolution is starting, the revolution of the petty thieves who steal other people's work, the revolution of the disciples of the corruption masters, of those supporting criminals in jail, of the servants of proven [Securitate] informers, of lawmakers who ask for the release of jail prisoners.

It seems Tom Gallagher was wrong in his article yesterday where he guessed that the grandees of the PSD were not vocal in supporting Mr. Ponta over the plagiarism scandal and that his position might become insecure. Today's moves are not the behaviour of someone who feels insecure, not is Crin Antonescu's the behaviour of an ally who is thinking of withdrawing his support.

Viviane Reding, the  European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship (these words fill me with terror and disgust) has protested, very rightly, at the full-frontal attack on the independence of the judiciary. Romania does not have an independent judiciary, her judges do what politicians tell them and sometimes sell themselves for money, but still this noble principle is being openly attacked without a fig leaf of justification. 

Miss Reding came to prominence by an intemperate attack on a perfectly legal attempt by France to repatriate Romanian gypsies who were not working or looking for work. Plain-spoken French officials committed the sin, in her eyes, of referring to gypsies as such and she compared the French to - how unexpectedly - the Nazis. She was later forced very reluctantly to apologise. I am sure Miss Reding's and my ideas of justice and fundamental rights are more often very opposed than consistent and I suspect she is an interfering busybody of the worst type (a very distinctively female, hectoring type) who should be fired. Nevertheless..

I hate to realise I have to take her side this time but I do. I know how Barbara Amiel felt when she said she couldn't forgive the Ayatollah Khomeini for making her defend Salman Rushdie (I felt the same way then too).  I cannot see in principle that Romania's constitutional law should be any concern of the E.U. but I suppose the Romanian government has much less  practical independence of action than when it was a Communist dictatorship before 1989. On the other hand a protectorate of Western Europe is a good thing on the whole to be for a country like Romania, despite all the very many bad things, from rules on killing pigs and driving horse-drawn carts to caning children and paternity leave.  Colonialism, even liberal feminist colonialism, does a deal of good for developing countries. How sad that Romanians look to foreigners to step in providentially to rectify the mistakes of their politicians, but they have little choice.

Reuters said this evening:

BUCHAREST - Romania's Constitutional Court on Tuesday accused Prime Minister Victor Ponta and his party of trying to dismantle the court and said it has notified European authorities of threats to its independence.Ponta, who is facing calls to resign over plagiarism charges, ignored a court ruling last week that his opponent President Traian Basescu was entitled to represent Romania at a European Council meeting and traveled to Brussels regardless.Ponta said he was following a ruling in parliament, where he has a comfortable majority, questioned the court's independence and said it was controlled by Basescu. His leftist Social-Liberal Union (USL) party threatened to replace some judges.

Mr. Ponta is going to be seen abroad as the next Viktor Orban, though he does not have any of  Mr. Orban's strong points. 

Romania has only produced two instinctive politicians, Ion Iliescu and Traian Basescu. I wonder what Ion Iliescu thinks of it all. I bet that master strategist is contemptuous. He got the courts to do whatever he wanted in a completely discreet way. I wonder how quickly Mr. Basescu can turn this to his and Mr. Ungureanu's advantage.


  1. Sorry to say it but it is presently a banana republic with millions of prostanaci who have no civic conscience.. a herd...

    What is happening right now in Romania is a slur on democracy and a highlighting of post-89 individualism. A true tragedy for a country that could be wealthy if well-governed by a political class who cared.

    Hoping the unauthorised protests won't lead to violence tomorrow...


  2. Just as an after-thought - did you see this?


  3. Thinks are happening so fast, it reminds those who know their history of the way the communists grabbed power in 1947 from a democratic government.
    Sarah again

  4. http://www.romanialibera.ro/opinii/editorial/lovitura-de-stat-usl-demareaza-procedurile-pentru-propria-sinucidere-politica-269393.html

    I agree with this article in Romania libera. USL’s rush to suspend basescu might return as a boomerang against themselves. It is very clear that the main objective of all these political steps is to suspend the President. USL shows no interest in keeping electoral promises or in finding solutions for Romania’s economic recovery. They are simply interested in removing basescu from the Romanian political scene.

    But all this arrogance and attacks against democracy will probably turn against them. As things look now, USL is likely to erode its popularity (built mainly on people’s aversion towards basescu and PDL) much faster than anyone would have imagined. It's basically the beginning of a political suicide for a group of people who hurried to imagine themselves as holders of the absolute power in Romania.