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This autumn, roses look more withered than ever

The ruling party, PSD, is one step away from reiterating in November 2004 the electoral failure reported in the local elections this June. Its main opponent, the “Justice and Truth” PNL-PD Alliance (D.A. Alliance), a right-of-centre organisation, has proved – it’s true, only this year – that it is capable of answering the voters’ expectations: raising living standards to a decent level, economic and political stability, and, most importantly, limiting the all-encompassing corruption generated by the social-democrats created by Ion Iliescu and for the moment headed by Adrian Năstase. The most recent attempt by the PSD leaders to counteract the imminent political decline took the form of an electoral trick which, ironically enough, deepened the crisis that the ruling party is going through after having lost the local elections: establishing a political alliance with a tiny little party, the Romanian Humanist Party (PUR), whose only advantage is that it owns a strong media holding. This is how the PSD+PUR National Union was born, to fight with the D.A. Alliance over Romanians’ votes in November.

Băsescu sees the cross at PSD-PUR alliance’s tomb

“The PSD plus PUR National Union”, as the Premier, PSD president and the Union’s candidate in the presidential elections Adrian Năstase likes to call it, was quickly mocked by the Democrat Party leader Traian Băsescu, the D.A. Alliance’s spearhead, who dubbed it the “PSD cross PUR Union”. Traian Băsescu proved anticipation skills, as the PSD+PUR was born dead.

The ruling party seems not to be able to overcome the crisis which affected all its members at all levels, after losing the local elections. Shortly after the electoral failure of June 2004, Ion Iliescu, Head of State but also “brain father” of the party, called an emergency meeting in Cotroceni with the PSD central leaders, whom he knocked speechless with his extremely harsh criticism and accusations: “I have given you a strong party, I have brought you to power in 2000, and you went and destroyed all I left you.” Tough words then came out of the presidential mouth: “you corrupt, time-servers, vile,” etc. The arrogant head of part and Government Adrian Năstase himself did not escape the rage of the PSD dad. Ion Iliescu’s reprimand was not related to the poor living standard to which he brought the Romanian population with his Government, but to the negative image, of a “party of the corrupt” that the Social Democrat Party got imbued in over the past 4 years. Pale with resentment, Adrian Năstase locked himself in the PM office and threatened Ion Iliescu and PSD, via middlemen, that he would resign as Prime Minister. After three days of sighing, comforted by his wife, Dana, and by Ion Iliescu’s lieutenants in PSD, Octav Cozmâncă and Nicolae Văcăroiu, Adrian Năstase gave up his self-seclusion and bravely told the party: “I will not resign. I think I’ll even run in the Presidentials in 2004.” The courageous Premier needed another 2 months of play until he eventually managed to tell the public opinion about his intention to take part in the elections for the highest office in the State. Not before dissolving, with the secret consent of the PSD heavyweights, the party’s central leading structure and installing a new team, made up of people with poor professional and political performances, yet fully obedient to him. Thus, Adrian Năstase, the one who planned, ever since taking over the power in the party and in the country in 2001, to replace Ion Iliescu as the main driving force of PSD, turned into a soap opera character, overwhelmed by superficial emotion and the captive of central and local PSD barons. With such “performances” in the past 5 months of Adrian Năstase-led PSD, the party’s crisis just weeks before the parliamentary and presidential elections is only natural.

No more lying to the people on TV

PSD proved, in the four years of governance, its outstanding skills in image creation. Close to all specialists in the field, plus analysts, journalists, sociologists were absorbed by the PSD central leading bodies, which paid for their services, more or less legally, with money from the public budgets. This specialised image-creating arm for four years has been seeking to induce to the public, by controlling most of the media, the idea that PSD and the Government are doing their best to meet Romanians’ needs. In exchange PSD and the Government have done their best to ensure, for themselves and their heirs, for quite a few generations from now on, a Bill Gates standard of living. Power officials chose to live in an imaginary Romania, a rich country parallel to the one in which the average whole economy salary is approx. EUR 130, and the 6 million pensioners are subject to a genocide worthy of totalitarian regimes. As Romanians’ poverty rates were going up, PSD leaders were convinced the population loves them and is willing to vote for them in 2004 as well. Embarrassingly obedient TV stations suffocated all shows, even the ones for children, with inspiring images of the deeds done by the rulers while in official visits abroad or in the country. Entertainment shows got to be broadcast from Adrian Năstase’s villas, and, willing or not, the whole people had to watch how his kids sing and dance or what his wife Dana’s cooking preferences are. On TV, Adrian Năstase, Ion Iliescu and PSD’s Romania was glittering with wellbeing more than the casinos in Las Vegas. Down in the street, the real Romania got full of pensioners who, humbly leaning against store doors, were begging for change to buy a loaf of bread, of higher education graduates without a job, of people angry that they could no longer cope with the wave of price rises. So that the negative vote which hit the ruling party in the local elections, jointly with the chaos which seized the PSD top level, brought Adrian Năstase’s social-democrats, in the second half of the year, on the verge of implosion.

Năstase and Cozmâncă stole their own party

“What should we do?” party leaders asked their image advisers, paid handsomely by the Romanian taxpayer. “PSD image reconstruction through shock wave: primary elections in the party, to draw up parliamentary lists” the electoral strategists proposed. The method, deeply democratic, was compromised in practice by the local and central barons of the party, who had co-ordinated the primaries. This is how PSD dignitaries made it into history books for the second time. Once, for the way they managed to steal a country, and secondly, for managing to steal their own hats, by faking their own primary elections.

Far from easing the chaos away, the new PSD leadership only managed to add to it. Dozens of Parliamentariansand hundreds of PSD members enrolled for the primaries told the press, and implicitly the public how the local elections were subject to fraud pulled by prefects and underprefects, Governmental dignitaries who should have ensured that the law is complied with in the country, and how the lists were forged in the party’s headquarters in Baneasa by Adrian Năstase and Octav Cozmâncă, who have thus proved their contempt as to the vote of their own party members. In the light of the said events occurring during the PSD primaries, the Government’s frauds in the national referendum on the Constitution in November is by no means a surprise. Furthermore, the domestic, but also the foreign public opinion have started to grant more credibility to accusations coming from the D.A. Alliance leaders Traian Băsescu and Theodor Stolojan, referring to the imminent fraud prepared by PSD for the parliamentary and presidential elections this autumn.

Exchange parliamentary seats for national TV station. Negotiable.

September 2004. The PSD leadership, facing the opposition inside de the party and aware of the strength of the D.A. Alliance, whose reins are firmly controlled by Traian Băsescu, backed by Theodor Stolojan, decides to copy, at an image level, the Liberals and Democrats’ success model and invite the miniature PUR party to establish a Union together. A National one! The reason put forth by PSD’s electoral strategists: the party was isolated in the political arena, caught inbetween the D.A. Alliance – with growing chances of reiterating the success of the local elections – and PRM, a slumbering nationalist party whose leader, C.V.Tudor, proved to be, in the general elections in 2000, a collector of the votes cast by the lowly educated, poor and disgruntled.

The actual reason which pushed the PSD leaders to take this decision: the need to have available a powerful media holding to promote the party and Adrian Năstase’s image. PUR is headed by businessman Dan Voiculescu, who, apart from other large-scale businesses, owns a high rating national TV station, Antena 1, a national daily, “Jurnalul Naţional” and a radio station. Moreover, in the local elections in June, Romeo Stavarache, the PUR candidate for the City Hall-, a PSD stronghold and home to a famous local baron of the ruling party, Dumitru Sechelariu, achieved the impossible. He overthrew the baron. This is how Stavarache became, along with PD leaders Traian Băsescu and Emil Boc, the third star of the local elections in Romania. Young Humanist Stavarache’s victory ennobled PUR, which gained unexpected visibility. The victory PUR won in the locals, small as it may seem (six percent nation-wide), inspired the PSD leadership which imagined that one swallow will make a summer.

But the facts are much tougher. Mathematical calculations made in Băneasa by the Power leaders and strategists, “PSD got 32 percent in the locals, PUR won 6 percent, jointly we will get in the general elections 38% plus the percentage redistributed from the parties which fail to reach the compulsory 5% for Parliament entry, and thus we win against D.A. Alliance” are, once again, just like the images broadcast by TV stations for the past 4 years, namely parallel with the actual Romania. PUR won 6 percent by vehemently criticising the corruption developed by PSD’s local and central barons. Right after the establishment of the PSD+PUR Union, Humanist county branches which scored successes in the local elections abandoned Voiculescu’s party to join the D.A. Alliance, not before publicly accusing PSD and PUR of manipulating the public opinion and of joint interests in illegal deals. Even the PUR star, Romeo Stavarache, stated he would never agree with an alliance with PSD. On the other hand, would-be PSD candidates in the general elections also oppose the alliance with PUR, as they will have to give up 32 eligible positions for seats in the Parliament to the Humanists. PSD and PUR members accuse, in one voice, the central leading structures of their parties of negotiating over their heads, to the direct benefit of a few central leaders seeking to hold on to power. Turning a deaf ear to their own members’ discontent and, more importantly, to the danger of inflating an unending crisis, PSD and PUR leaders decided to back Adrian Năstase, candidate for the Union in the Presidential elections and to appoint Mircea Geoană, written off by Traian Băsescu in the local elections in Bucharest, as the Premier in the future hypothetical Social-Democrat – Humanist government.

Candidates and retarded

Obsessed with the D.A. Alliance’s leaders, with Theodor Stolojan, Adrian Năstase’s opponent in the Presidential elections and, in particular, with Traian Băsescu, who, they suspect, is making ready to become a PM if the PNL-PD wins the general elections, PSD leaders make one mistake after another. Just like Nicolae Ceauşescu on December 22, 1989, Premier Adrian Năstase promises pay raises and pension increases to pensioners and budgetary sector employees, promises which, made in the last two months of the mandate, only got the electorate even more nervous. The PSD+PUR Union government programme nonetheless guarantees milk and honey only as of 2008, that is after another mandate.

Separately, unexpectedly subtle after three years in a wan Opposition, D.A. Alliance leaders caught the voters’ attention with a promise which sounds extremely credible: tax abatement and introduction of the 16% flat income tax quota, a measure impatiently looked for in a Romania with higher taxes than developed EU country, yet applied on incomes at least ten times lower…

Furthermore, insecurity as regards the electoral success in November made PSD leaders, sick and tired of being accused of corruption deeds which ruined the voters, to deal a brutal strike to the few newspapers which maintained a relative editorial unbias in the past four years, and ask the foreign owners to put an end to all criticism targeted at them.The open war unleashed between the central PSD leaders and journalists in “România liberă” and “Evenimentul Zilei” dailies shocked the national public, who again began to associate the ruling party withthe defunct Communist party. Ion Iliescu, Adrian Năstase and Mircea Geoană forgot that in only two weeks they were booed by both the Romanians in the country, in Ţebea or in Bucharest, and the ones who left the country after 1990, in Montreal. Instead of trying to understand, even at the end of their mandate, why Romanians are angry, they labelled the disgruntled as “mentally retarded.” And they still dream of the votes of the “retarded.”

This autumn, roses look more withered than ever…

Publicat în : English  de la numărul 20
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