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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!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Romania's "progressive politics" on show once again

I haven’t posted about Romanian politics for more than a year but - with parliamentary elections on December 11 removing the technocratic government created in the aftermath of the November 2015 series of scandals which had hit the ruling “social democratic” party – it seems an appropriate time to try to update readers about the situation here in Romania.    

Last November this is how I described things -

Romanian politicians don’t do resignations. When, a few years back, one of their previous Ministers who had migrated to Brussels as a Euro MP was one of three Euro MPs to be caught in a sting, the other two quickly resigned but not Romanian Adrian Severin…..

When Victor Ponta became Romania’s Prime Minister some 4 years ago, he was almost immediately discovered by a global scientific journal to have committed extensive plagiarism for his PhD. He shrugged that off – although it had immediately led to resignations of German and other national Ministers guilty of such transgressions. But not in Romania…..Even being indicted by the country’s powerful anti-corruption brigade (DNA) didn’t seem to rattle him – only one of the charges would have been liable to remove him.

 But Ponta duly went (pushed it appears) in November 2015 as public anger at political shamelessness reached boiling point - first from the death of a police outrider escorting a Ministry of Interior’s car which had no right for such protection but then, at the weekend, from almost 50 deaths in a night-club which, like all such places in the country, had absolutely no fire or safety precautions……The “Sarah in Romania” blog can always be relied upon for a caustic comment on such matters – ….
This time their seems some focus for policy change to the anger….the country now has a President (Klaus Johannis) who has used at least the language of radical change - although the jury must remain out on whether he has the capacity to deliver. And the street protests - which were normally led by a party political element - look this time to have a slightly more hopeful base in the citizens……but so-called “civil society” (about which one does not hear so much these days) has never really taken off in Romania – despite the extensive funding it got from external sources…..
Despite my own social democratic credentials, I have never been a fan of the Romanian PSD party which, for me, immediately absorbed the Ceaucescu lineage into a distinctive soup of social democratic rhetoric and finance capitalist reality. Tom Gallagher expressed it best when he used “Theft of a State” as the title of his book on post 1989 politics in the country.
The most physical expression you can find of the extent to which the apparatchiks still have their claws in everything is by checking in each city you visit the large mansions in prime areas which have the various party insignia designating them as party possessions…..
Hundreds of politicians are now in jail and it is entirely significant that the current PDS leader is on a 2-year suspended prison sentence for electoral fraud – occurred when the party tried to impeach the country’s President…..

With considerable reluctance, he seems to have accepted that this prevents him from assuming the position of Prime Minister but has just executed what he considers a brilliant move by nominating an unknown Muslim woman instead.............whose name. however, has just been rejected by the President on what are thought to be security grounds .(he husband is a pro-Assad Syrian activist).... Talk about being too clever by half........this is just playing with the country!!

In May 2016 the local elections put this totally corrupt party back into power in most of the country’s urban centres. Early December saw less than a 40% turnout in the parliamentary elections but the PSD took almost half of the vote and the majority of the seats…..They now control almost everything in Romania except the Presidency and the judiciary and are already making vague threats against both……

One of the few English=speaking blogs is Bucharest Life (of which I’m no great fan) but their updates are worth looking at

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