what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Technocrats, securitats ...and cronycrats

An article in Scottish Review by someone apparently also living in Romania asks whether we now have 'Eurocracy' replacing democracy – pointing not only to the parachuting of bankers into the Greek and Italian Prime Minister jobs (in the greek case, the same guy who had overseen the falsification of accounts when the country entered the euro) but also to recent events in Romania. Romania has just completed a 2 year (apparently successful - at least in IMF terms!) spell of control by the IMF and, the article writes, –
two days after the IMF representative left Bucharest, the government of the deeply unpopular prime minister, Mr Emile Boc, resigned en masse and was swiftly replaced by a completely new government of what appear to be young technocrats. In Romania, the prime minister is appointed by the elected president. Finally, two days later, the governor of the Romanian Central Bank, the only man with any clue about fiscal and economic policy in the entire country, announced that responsibility for the nation's fiscal policy should no longer rest with the IMF but should be transferred to those nice German regulators at the EU, through the new fiscal treaty. Romania's president was one of the first non-Eurozone government heads to sign the treaty. Romania is confirmed as the next country, after Greece and Italy, to be governed by Merkozy's EU fiscal and political regime.
I have much sympathy with the author’s general point about the reduction of democracy but he is not quite right to argue that the new Romanian government is an example of the new "technocracy”. It is certainly true that the new Prime Minister Mihai Razvan Ungureanu, is not an elected politician. He was, previously, head of Romania's foreign intelligence – which makes him a "securitat" rather than "technocrat"! His full list of new ministers was approved yesterday in the Parliament. M.R. Ungureanu's government team is formed of all-new members from the Democratic Liberal Party (PDL), while coalition partners, the Hungarian Democrats (UDMR), and the UNPR retain their ministers who have served in Emil Boc's government. Two independents also keep their portfolios. Half, therefore, of the new government is unchanged – and only about 6 (on my count) are not politicians half of them incumbents. The full list of the new government is:

• Deputy PM - Marko Bela (UDMR, incumbent)
• Home Affairs and Administration Ministry - Gabriel Berca (PDL)
• Finance Ministry - Bogdan Dragoi (PDL)
• Economy Ministry - Lucian Bode (PDL)
• Foreign Affairs Ministry - Cristian Diaconescu (UNPR, incumbent)
• Transport Ministry -Alexandru Nazare (PDL)
• Environment Ministry - Laszlo Borbely (UDMR, incumbent)
• Tourism Ministry - Cristian Petrescu (PDL)
• Defense Ministry - Gabriel Oprea (UNPR, incumbent)
• Culture Ministry - Kelemen Hunor (UDMR, incumbent)
• Justice Ministry - Catalin Predoiu (independent, incumbent)
• Communications Ministry - Serban Mustea (PDL)
• Labor Ministry - Claudia Boghicevici (PDL)
• Education Ministry - Catalin Baba (PDL)
• Health Ministry - Ladislau Ritli (UDMR, incumbent)
• Agriculture Ministry - Stelian Fuia (PDL)
• European Affairs Ministry - Leonard Orban (independent, incumbent)

As many of the new members of the government are young - some of them in their early 30s - Mihai Razvan Ungureanu pointed out on Wednesday it was a young government formed of
new faces, exceptional professionals, people who I've worked with in various structures of the government. It is a government worthy of trust and ready to show not only a change in political generations but also a change of principle in activity
Frankly I don’t hold my breath. I have already commented that the younger generation of ambitious people here is no better than its elders. They owe their position to those elders (whether parents or protectors) and their education abroad has made them even more arrogant than their elders. It is, for me, significant, that the new Minister of Finance is the very young man I fingered in September 2010 for cronyism and disregard for such legalities as the need to make an open and honest declaration of financial interests. He was then State Secretary at the Ministry and is therefore apparently one of the non-elected technocrats – except that I doubt whether his route to that high-level civil service position permits that term to be used of him and his like. This is what my September 2010 blog said about him -
People like Dragoi enjoy such patronage (with no experience - he became a State Secretary at the age of 26 after an extended education!) and protection and seem so contemptuous of these forms that he doesn't even bother to update his form which understates his income by a factor of 40! 250 euros he says when it is actually 9,600!
His out-of-date form does, however, declare some of the additional revenues he earned as a committee member of various state funds.
I alighted on his declaration form by accident – just choosing his file at random from the list of officials’ forms. These assets, earnings and concealments reveal systemic immorality which, in Romania’s case, seems to be shaped and sustained by the role of its political parties which grabbed significant amounts of property in 1990 and which now determine the career path of young characters like Dragoi (nationally and internationally) and take in return a significant part of his earnings. For more on this issue see Tom Gallagher's 2010 article.

When people talk about pinning their hopes on the younger generation, I will always think of this face. It is when such behaviour is revealed that I feel some shame for having spent time working trying to reform such systems.
Perhaps, therefore, the term we should be using for Romania and similar countries with similar systems is not "technocracy" (which implies ability) but "cronycracy". By the way, an earlier article in Scottish Review by the same author was the best piece Ive read about the reasons for the protests here which led to the change in government.

The caricature is Daumier - one of history's best! This one is called Marionettes.

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