Tuesday 10 July 2012

What's it all about in Romania?

It is much more important to know what questions to ask than how to answer them. Here are some questions about the revolution in Romania.

Why did the USL coalition take power at all in Romania this summer rather than wait till the parliamentary elections in November which they seemed (and seem) certain to win? To keep the alliance together is one suggestion I heard from a well-informed foreign observer- to enable Victor Ponta and the PSD to keep their PNL allies happy with what Trollope called  'the soothing waters of office.' A better informed Romanian banker thinks it has a much simpler explanation. The PSD and PNL want to make money to finance their campaign or at least stop the PDL making money to finance theirs from deals with state-owned companies like Hidroelectrica. 

Perhaps this is why they suspended  President Băsescu  too, to prevent the PDL raising money. But is their any link between the secret services, controlled by the president personally and therefore source of enormous power to him, and the plagiarism scandal broken by 'Nature'? This question is not so important but I wonder if the impeachment is all part of a plan when the USL took power or a response to the plagiarism allegations (they are more than allegations - they are proven).

Like so many things in Romanian  politics the impeachment and the dramatic actions which led up to it (decried abroad as a coup) do not look like a cunning plan to me but as usual with Romanian politicians a badly thought out mess. The Constitutional Court as was almost inevitable has ruled that the government does not have the power to change the law to allow a mere simple majority of the voters to decide if President Băsescu is impeached. 50% plus one of the registered electors need to turn out and vote and a majority of them need to vote to impeach him. This makes it very much harder to impeach him. People do not like him but they do not much like this impeachment process either and it is very hot and they have better things to do on a weekend in the dog days of a Romanian July when the heat is unbearable than to go and vote against him and for their new government. Quite a few will be away from home on holiday or away for the weekend keeping cool in the mountains.

The Financial Times reported yesterday evening that the Government had said it would respect the court's ruling. Some of today's papers say Victor Ponta will not respect the ruling, others are unclear. All is confusion. In theory we could have Mr. Băsescu losing the referendum with a turnout of below 50%, he and the Constitutional Court claiming he is president and Crin claiming he is acting president - a situation like the Anti-Popes who waged war on one another in the Middle Ages or the three false Dimitris who bedevilled Polish history or the various people who claimed to be Louis XVII. 

It could become an opera like Boris Gudonov. As I said last week (the idea is Alison Mutler's) so much of what happens in Romania is operatic. Who would play Elena Udrea? Maybe the singer in 'Anna Nicole Smith: The Opera'. This opera however will not end tragically. It is going to be a comic opera though very badly written and sung. 

If the government accepts the court's ruling it will be a game changer and  Mr. Băsescu could urge his voters to boycott the polls to increase his chances hugely. He may be too combative for this course but if he took it he would have a very good chance indeed of remaining President in August. And then the USL would look foolish, if they do not already. Romanian politics tends to be like this - emotionally charged, Machiavellian, dramatic but badly thought out and often slightly pointless, like many things in this country that I love so much.

if the government refuses to accept the court's ruling then we are in coup or putsch territory - oh my fur and whiskers!

One thing is certainly proven - the value of the monarchy. No one suspects that the King would use the secret services to frame his political opponents or to embezzle money and kings cannot be impeached. I would respect Crin and the Liberals if at this moment they would come out for restoring the monarchy.

Mrs. Monica Macovei is a former Minister of Justice who actually did achieve some good things in reducing corruption among Romanian judges with President Băsescu's support (there is still far to go). She  is one of the very few heroes in Romanian politics. She belongs to President Băsescu's PDL and has her own political reasons for decrying the coup in the European Parliament and by so doing is doing great harm to the  Romanian government, to the fury of the USL.  The leader of the PSD MEPs, one Catalin Ivan, has hilariously called on the President of the European Parliament to move to expel her for damaging the Parliament's reputation by her comments. It would make a dog laugh. Such politicians Romania has and such parliamentarians the European Union has. I suppose a quarter of a century ago he would have called her a right-wing deviationist.

1 comment:

  1. A very badly written and sung opera is about right... except there are real people suffering very badly from the greed and the amorality of the protagonists...

    I personally am still in that no-mans land position. Though I want to see the back of Basescu once and for all, it should not be done like this... dulce et decorum est pro patria mori... And neither do I want to see the seat taken over by the party of Iliescu (the man I loathe most in the entire world) with his fabulous manipulation skills and his minions on puppet strings at his hands...

    Sling the whole lousy lot of the ruling political class in the slammer and start over from scratch - except there isn't anyone to begin with. In a country of 22 million, I find it hallucinating that there can be no one 'better' than this.

    I'm at a loss, and, like many of my friends and acquaintances in Romania, fear deeply for the future of the country.

    I've been shocked by the hatred, the nastiness and vulgarity on social networks, especially Facebook. If you are against what USL have done, the abuse, the undemocratic actions and stance, then you are automatically labelled pro-Basescu. If, on the other hand, you say you can'tstand Basescu, then you're thrown into the pro-USL camp. Indeed, thereare only two choices, but it's more complicated than that. Itis also impossible to have a civilised discussion much less debate from anyone on 'the other side'. Insults, accusations, suggestions and very disagreeable nuances are thrown across the ring and frankly, I've been really upset by the language and outrageous offensiveness I've seen and been subject to, too. There is simply no respect anywhere for anyone. Perhapsit was always like that, but never was it so flagrant.

    Dark days ahead. God help Romania with it's 90% of idiots and 10% decent people... Schimbarea domnilor, bucuria nebunilor...