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The impossible change

In one of its features last issue, “Cadran Politic” was arguing in favour of the consolidation of Mircea Geoană’s power position as a solution to the PSD internal crisis.

Motto: “So foul a sky clears not without a storm” (W. Shakespeare)

Within a month after Adrian Năstase’s self-suspension as executive president of PSD, signals indicating a fast, in-depth change of the party are late in arriving. Moreover, Mircea Geoană, who seemed able to become the leader fighting the corruption in the party, was himself accused with at least immoral, if not outright illegal real estate transactions. After two meetings of national and local leaders, with the PSD change topping the agenda, the only evident result is the change of the party’s colour to orange-red.

Neither revolution, nor reform

Ever since the April 2005 Convention, talks about Mircea Geoană’s incapacity to assert his authority in the party have been recurrent. He did score a major win, defeating Ion Iliescu in a PSD gathering deeply marked by the electoral loss. This “revolution” in the party was not followed however by anything but unproductive image-centred initiatives (“revolution of Good”), through which Mircea Geoană has tried, without much ambition (but also without party backing) to turn, from a denial of Ion Iliescu, into the PSD leader for the future. Towards the end of the year, as his conflicts with Iliescu carried on, Geoană’s position was already weakening, and Adrian Năstase stood out as a prospective challenger in a nearing special convention. The “Aunt” scandal was therefore, for Mircea Geoană, a new opportunity to assert his domination in the party, to secure legitimacy to his “revolution” in the April convention through a “reform” after Năstase’s self-suspension as executive president. But what happened in the meeting in Brasov and then in the National Council meeting proved that Mircea Geoană is neither a revolutionary, nor a reformist. He cannot overcome either Iliescu’s crypto-communism, or Năstase’s corruption.

Nostalgia and unrest

As opposed to the convention which elected Geoană as president, the National Council meeting on February 3 revealed a number of shifts in emphasis. First of all, it was the guilty confusion which dominated the meeting from beginning to end. Over one year since the recent elections, PSD is unable to choose a clear direction to pursue. Moreover, while in early 2005 the party still believed the Alliance was to blame for PSD’s losing the elections, now it no longer does, and it tends to blame itself. Also, one couldn’t help to notice that Ion Iliescu returned in the PSD supporters’ good graces. The old politician’s nostalgias of the FSN ideals win plaudits, whereas young Geoană’s warnings that corrupts need to be eliminated from the party were coldly received. While Ion Iliescu recouped his well-known briskness after his much-too-grave “Take care on whose hands you’re leaving the party,” in the Convention, Mircea Geoană seems increasingly tense and nervous: “I will tell you something that hurts me: when Romanians hear the word corruption, two thirds of them think of PSD. This is a burden that will get us sunk (author’s emphasis), unless we cut this chain.”

The orange “superego” and the red “subconscious”

One of the oddest things about the PSD National Council on February 3 was the orange background of the stage. In a rebranding move coordinated by Vasile Dâncu, Mircea Geoană meant to assert a new image for PSD, a PSD whose “red” derives from the Socialist International rather than from the communist party’s colours. One can hardly tell whether the stage designer played a practical joke, or actually had a specific positive intention. One explanation could be the intention to conceptually subsume Geoană’s anti-crypto-communist and anti-corruption “revolution” to the D.A. Alliance’s “great orange revolution.” The year 2004 would thus be seen as the starting point of the Romanian democracy, and PSD would be, jointly with the Alliance, one of the democratic parties. But the effect was different altogether: it emphasized the crisis within PSD. The orange background appears to be the Alliance’s dominant “superego,” the source of PSD’s complex, while the red is the subconscious desire to return to Ion Iliescu, to his communism hidden under the FSN blue.

How can one change, yet stay the same?

In little over one year after the elections, PSD has made some progress in identifying not the solutions for a re-launch, but the causes of its major crisis. This crisis is definitely a systemic one, which threatens to lead to a party implosion. One can safely say that Mircea Geoană, Adrian Năstase and Ion Iliescu are three distinct aspects of the same problem, which could be phrased out in these terms: “How can PSD reform, how can it turn into an essentially democratic party, without denying itself, its post-1989 history, in other words, without disappearing?” All failures are indications of incapacity to effectively adjust to reality, and generate an inevitable systemic crisis. Until the causes of failure and actual solutions are identified, pseudo-solutions are searched for in the previous order, in the system’s successful past (the Iliescu solution), or on the contrary, outside, by taking over versions of successful systems (D.A. Alliance – Geoană solution). But the system needs to find its own, present solutions. A return to the past cannot adjust the party body to the new problems of the future. Taking over external formulas also damages the system, as it alienates it, it turns it into something it is not. The internal solution must however change the system deeply; more specifically, it must change its rationale, its functioning and its leadership. In other words, the party needs a new reinterpretation of the past, a new leadership style and a new organization of basic structures.

It was evident in 2002-2004 that the reforms initiated by former PSD president Adrian Năstase were heavily countered by the structure. But the need to have the party adjusted to the challenges of the present remained, particularly after PSD lost the elections. The problem is that in spite of this need, a resistance to change continued to exist, and it is in full swing today. After Năstase, Geoană is the second leader who fails to change PSD. Which indicates that the party cannot change from within, as change is seen as a procedure specific to right-wing parties. PSD cannot find its own reform formula. Which is why it is only likely to change through internal division or through a major event that would involve inevitable change.


Publicat în : English  de la numărul 34
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