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Unrest and unease…

The country report, which, the Romanian political class presumed, would give us the passport for the European Union entry, and after which politicians would be free to do as they pleased, like conscripts after the discharge, shed light on some interesting trends in the main Romanian parties. The Commission verdict put them on hold, but, as Eminescu put it, “eyes closed to the outside will open wide within…”


The most evident problem is in PSD, where we have three clearly defined groups. One of them was negotiating with PD on a possible government formula. Another one considered cooperation with the Greater Romania Party. Finally, there’s Ion Iliescu’s group, dreaming of an “authentic” left-wing pole.

The funny thing with this balance of forces is that Mircea Geoană is caught off guard again, which reinforces the “thickhead” labelling. After having got to the PSD helm on the Cluj group’s strong support, Mircea Geoană sought to strengthen his position and completely gave up all intentions to reform and redress the party. On the contrary, he forged an alliance with party “barons” and entered the sphere of influence of “master of ceremonies” Viorel Hrebenciuc, the mastermind behind the negotiations with Greater Romania Party. What was the point in publicising this cooperation, since PSD was working just fine with Greater Romania without signing any protocol? I think what we see here is a strategic positioning of party wings. With rumours on the PD – PSD contacts growing more frequent, the PSD barons’ group meant to prove its own strength and to show that there are “alternatives.”

Ion Iliescu’s group got pretty much left out and no longer seems to be paid heed to. It’s hard to tell how much influence “Granny” actually has in the party today, apart from his group of failures (Văcăroiu, Răzvan Theodorescu, Iorgovan, Dan Iosif or Rodica Stănoiu), not to mention Petre Roman, who ended up as a “political analyst” in OTV. Iliescu is most likely biding his time, to then join the winning side. I assume he has a crumb of reason left, to tell him that an attempt to make it “on his own” would be suicide.


In the Liberal party, Stolojan’s unexpected resurgence, about one year after the failed coup attempt on a “utopian” political agenda targeting the merger of Liberals and Democrats, is closer to political comedy than to political action. A proof that this is the case is that, at least so far, two of the key merger advocates, Mona Muscă and Valeriu Stoica, have kept a low profile and chose not to take sides. The only Liberal to come into the spotlight with Stolojan is the latter’s former assistant, Raluca Turcan. Even young Liberal Boureanu would not be associated to such a move, which is relevant for the “extensive support” it enjoys, whereas Stolojan’s proposal for premier – Gheorghe Flutur (who owes almost everything to him) – also took a mature and reserved stand.

Unfortunately for the Tăriceanu group however, a party cannot build up an electorate by temporarily embracing ideas proposed by the civil society and appreciated by right-wing voters, as long as these ideas are not underpinned by a coherent medium and long-term political project. This will not allow PNL to be more than the presidential whipping boy.

Leaving circumstances aside, some of Theodor Stolojan’s criticism is grounded and unless problems are solved, the party will fail in mediocrity. PNL has an undeniable opportunity to capitalise on the right-wing electorate, but if Tăriceanu continues to consent to cases such as Norica Nicolai’s “niece” or Ludovic Orban’s outbursts, to have a George Copos or Codruţ Şereş in the Cabinet for the sake of short-term political benefits, he will waste this significant opportunity and exit history through the backdoor, as Adrian Năstase did.

Already Tăriceanu has been attacked by Crin Antonescu, in a move that took everyone by surprise. Crin Antonescu is presumed to be “Patriciu’s man,” which means Tăriceanu lost the latter’s support and is virtually on his own. If this is the case, Tăriceanu’s exit from the Liberal and therefore the Government lead is only a matter of time.


Polls indicate that the image transfer works on one side alone: from Traian Băsescu to the Democratic Party, which takes over all the features assigned to the President. Unfortunately however, in terms of confidence rates the only one to stay close to the President is Theodor Stolojan. No Democratic leader makes it to the top rank.

The Băsescu-Stolojan tandem may be a winner for the Democrats and the President, provided that the latter gives up attempts to “break” PNL, which are sure to fail just as they did last summer. After having restructured and patched up a wobbling Liberal party, Stolojan can do the same for the Democratic Party, which is gasping for earnest and credible characters in top structures. Moreover, the President would have a loyal and disciplined partner, but one who unlike Emil Boc for instance (who has the same attributes) also enjoys outstanding public confidence rates.


Another party seriously threatened to vanish from the political arena is UDMR. The Magyars had managed for quite a while to preserve their image as a modern and elegant political group. But Monica Macovei unmasked them, leaving them in a rather awkward position. In fact the isolationist policy UDMR has followed so far is now proving its flaws. I was reading a story in Cotidianul recently (a first in the Romanian media) on the major employment difficulties Magyar graduates have because they don’t speak Romanian. This is the outcome of the Magyar enclavisation (it’s not an accident that the two “Magyarised” counties Harghita and Covasna are among the under-developed Romanian counties) and the disastrous effects of education in the mother-tongue exclusively. The really sad thing in the story was that even with Magyar companies operating in Romania, knowledge of Romanian is a key employment prerequisite, which few Magyars meet. Unfortunately however, no Romanian party has a project – at least at a theoretical level – for the Magyar minority (and for minorities in general).


Publicat în : English  de la numărul 38
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