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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!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

State Capture

I returned from Sofia last Thursday (with many litres of white Bulgarian wine) and am now back in the mountains – silent witness to the latest events of the pantomime which passes for politics here in Romania.
Only 46 percent of voters apparently cast their ballots in Sunday’s referendum called after the Romanian parliament suspended Basescu in early July on accusations that he had overstepped his power. Given the outdated nature of the electoral register, this is an astonishingly high percentage for such a contentious, quickly-called and inconveniently-timed referendum and suggest to me the ballot-stuffing of which this government has proved itself highly capable.
88 percent of those who did bother to vote favoured Basescu's ejection, but the president had asked his followers to boycott the referendum.
On Monday, just hours after the country's Central Election Bureau announced that voter turnout had not been sufficient to make results of the referendum valid, Basescu went on the attack. Those who "organized this failed coup," he said, "should be held responsible before the state institutions."
Prime Minister Victor Ponta promptly responded by demanding that the president resign. "He will probably stay in the presidential palace, will have cars, villas and some profiteers around him who will continue to advise and praise him," Ponta said on Monday. "But for the Romanian people he stopped being a leader last night."

The Romanian Academic Society is one of the few bodies in this country which tries to offer analysis rather than emotional diatribes – and I missed its typically balanced paper which puts the recent antics in the detailed context of legislative and political events and court decisions in Romania over the past 2-3 years. The paper draws attention to the scale of parliamentarian cross-dressing (MPs changing parties during the course of a parliament) and argues that 
the reason for this bitter fighting and the high political migration in Romania is one and the same: the high stakes of state capture in an environment with major corruption opportunities. 
The paper even-handedly points to the corruption of Basescu colleagues which has been unearthed recently – undermining the argument that this has been, in the phrase of one German newspaper, a case of white knights versus black knights
A system in which the suspended President’s daughter; acting President’s wife and Prime Minister’s wife are all (from different parties) Members of the European Parliament indicates just what a self-serving political class we have here. Another RAS commentary gives more detail on the political aspects of the RomanianConstitutional Court.

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