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!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Disaster facing Romania

A very tragic situation developing for Romania after Sunday’s parliamentary elections there – with the unholy alliance of ex-communists and liberals (???!!) getting 60% of a very low vote (40%) and the party associated with the much-hated and paranoid President Basescu getting only 16%. An Economist article puts the situation very bluntly -
According to the Constitution, Mr Basescu has the right to appoint the next prime minister, following consultations with the party that gained the majority of votes. (Art 103 of the constitutions says "The President of Romania nominates one candidate for the function of Prime Minister, after consulting with the party that has an absolute majority in the Parliament, or if one does not exist from one of the parties present in the parliament".)
The ruling alliance stated they want Mr Ponta to continue as prime minister for another four years( – but they are a coalition not a party). Basescu has repeatedly indicated that even if the ruling alliance gains a majority of votes, he will not nominate Mr Ponta.
Last week, Mr Basescu said he will appoint a prime minister who is pro-European, respects the Constitution and the rule of law and doesn’t have any hidden details on his resume that could make him an easy target for blackmail. Mr Ponta does not appear to fit the bill. The European Union has strongly criticised his government last summer following the cabinet’s attempts to take control of the judiciary and other public institutions. Mr Ponta was also accused of plagiarising his PhD thesis and lying in his CV. He denied all the allegations. 
One of the commentators in the subsequent discussion thread spells out what lies ahead -
Due to a friendly (and highly controversial) Constitutional Court ruling, the interpretation that the president operates under is that he can choose whoever he likes. But it’s clear that the spirit of the law, and of his constitutional role as a neutral arbiter are ignored. He is supposed to consult with the parties and assess which party's candidate has the best chance at forming a parliamentary majority. For the president to name whom he wish is aberrant and un-democratic. Why even consult with the parties if he can nominate whoever he wants? If we want to be technical, the president could even dissolve the parliament after two failed attempts at forming the government based on his nominations. This would mean that Basescu, based on this literal interpretation of the law, could repeated dissolve parliament and force new elections until the parliament (and thus the people) succumbed to his will and backed his nominee.
But alas, let's say the President is within his legal right to nominate as he alone chooses. Is this moral? Is this something that is in line with trans-Atlantic values? Are the people of Romania to be held hostage under the guise of respecting the Rule of Law where on the other hand democratic principles are being trampled? And I'm not even mentioning the issue of legitimacy. 7.6 million Romanians voted this past Sunday. 7.3 million voted for Basescu to be impeached in July. Reflect on this...these numbers are staggering!
However at the end of the day, Basescu has no leverage. If the president wants to be technical in his political fight then so can his opposition. If he doesn't nominate Ponta, the parliament will suspend Basescu again and the interim President will appoint Ponta. Another crisis, lost time, lost money, but ultimately the will of the people will prevail.
Poor Romanians! They face another impeachment of the President; attempts (as in Hungary) to make the Constitutional Court subject to corrupt parliamentarians and all other sorts of constitutional changes if the minority Hungarian party enters the coalition. What is left of Rule of Law is collapsing. And this is the country I'm driving back to in a few days (snow permitting!!)

Two years this time I had a post listing some of my favourite reading of all time.

No comments:

Post a Comment