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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, July 5, 2012

Romania's real tragedy

What passes in this country for political discussion has an increasingly paranoiac tone. I have found that venom between political personalities and groups generally reflects (a) an absence of significant policy differences between political parties and (b) their being "on the make" and committed to personal enrichment rather than (even the pretence of) the public good.
The result is those who lose elections are envious of every day the opposite lot has its snout in the trough (as distinct from theirs). Thus it has been with the two parties in America (the recent differences have been cultural rather than policy) - which are simply conduits for the cash which is needed in that country for candidates to stand.
Romanian political parties are opportunistic devices; they come and they go – and those elected often change their allegiance when they see the way voter opinion is going. Europe too easily assumed that Romania had an operational democracy!  

Citizens in Romania face rising prices and falling wages – but the political class has no time for such issues. For several weeks, all its efforts and time has been spent on power games. But parliamentary elections come in a few months. The people will not forget. We can expect the extreme parties – such as they are - to garner votes.
There seems a total absence of any independent voice of reason in this situation. Senior civil servants and those on a whole variety of state bodies are servants of the party which appointed them. Those who have been sacked in the past few days were the political appointments of “the other lot” – not the independent souls we imagine. Many of those in civil society (who signed the letters to Europe) have attachments. It is very difficult to survive without them. The media is part of the power struggle. And Universities are corrupted. And so it goes on. This is a systemic problem – not just the case of a crazy Prime Minister (or President) – and needs a systemic solution.
Romania has an incredible number of bright people – more intellectuals than any other country I know. At the moment they seem struck dumb. And, sadly, they are all highly competitive if not arrogant – and don’t seem capable of making alliances with one another to help pull the country out of its downward spiral. That’s the real tragedy!

If in fact there is a referendum later this month which asks citizens whether their President should be impeached, voters actually should be encouraged to score out the word “Basescu” on the ballot paper and replace it with “politicians”. That is the simplest way to tell them to start focusing on public problems and opportunities rather than on their own.
In the meantime, someone needs to start a discussion about the qualities Romania needs in its politicians and what sort of mechanism is needed to start recruiting and sustaining a new breed of serious people (on lower salaries and benefits) with some integrity.        

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