The High Court rulings in Zambaccian file on Monday, through which it sentenced former PM Adrian Nastase to four years in prison and his wife Dana to three years suspended sentence, has almost monopolized the media attention. Justice issues are the top focus at the beginning of 2014. The Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM) has elected its new president, while yesterday another High Court ruling was expected in the case of former transport minister Relu Fenechiu. In this situation the statements made on Monday by the president and the prime-minister in regard to the priorities for 2014 were overlooked by analysts.
It’s not at all strange that both politicians are ready to fight. The first public appearances in 2014 (PM Ponta at the PSD Standing Bureau, President Basescu granting an interview for B1TV) meant a showdown, during which the two politicians displayed their main targets in a menacing way.
Looking at their statements one may realize the political fight is not at all over, they are ready to go to the very end to annihilate the political foe. The so-called cohabitation between institutions remains propaganda used by both sides when it serves their interests. Otherwise, it’s empty of any meanings.
PM Victor Ponta stressed PSD’s main objective for this year is the dissolution of the Basescu regime, accusing the presidential system of being based on legionary-like propaganda, while Traian Basescu is seen as a paranoid dictator, supported by a gang of impostors, eager to have access to money and public offices. “We aim to demolish brick by brick in 2014 what is left of the Traian Basescu political regime, as this year concludes ten years of lies, of actions meant to destroy Romania, international isolation, of persecutions of political enemies” the document presented by PM Ponta reads.
The televisions at the PSD headquarters were showing during the Standing Bureau meeting the time left until ‘Basescu is leaving’: 49 weeks, 6 days and 2 hours.
PM Ponta’s and PSD’s objectives for 2014 are mainly political ones: – using the current alliances and the support of the political friends to dissolve the Basescu regime; winning the elections for the European Parliament and winning the presidential seat on behalf of USL; – support for the health system, education, culture and sports; attracting foreign investments from the EU, China, Turkey and other European states; – support for the Army and the religious cults, starting with the Romanian Orthodox Church; – winning the presidential elections so that the new president is an arbiter, a peace-maker and an unifier, contrary to what Traian Basescu is considered being; – the new head of state should not consider the justice, the Constitutional Court and the intelligence services as institutions that need to be politically controlled.
President Traian Basescu’s objectives for 2014 may not be, at first glance, as hostile as the above mentioned ones. During the interview, in his well-known style, the head of state managed to warn he would not spare the current governance, on the contrary. One should read between the lines to find out what the president has in store: – he envisages a discussion with the ruling parties about the priorities for this year, to find out about each other’s point of view, in order to avoid disputes and standoffs. (One may say that an USL refusal would be speculated as ill-intent in the coming political fight. If accepted, such a meeting is prone to offer the president information on what USL is targeting for this year); – another objective – consolidation of the justice system; – reaching an economic development of more than 3 per cent of GDP; – a debate should start regarding an administrative union between Romania and the Republic of Moldova. (A delicate subject on both sides of the Prut River. Some say that by bringing this issue to discussion, Traian Basescu is trying to reach a new political battlefront in view of the coming elections. The recent meetings between the Romanian and Moldovan premiers and the criticism coming from Chisinau towards Basescu’s involvement in the issue of unification have stirred dissatisfaction at the Cotroceni Palace.); Traian Basescu says the debate should start in Romania, without involving Moldovan politicians; – support for a right-wing candidate for presidency. No names were mentioned. Traian Basescu said he would decide on whom to support after the European elections this spring.
last but not least, the President is warning he might summon a referendum on the unicameral Parliament issue together with the first round of presidential elections this autumn.
By putting himself as counter-weight to the current government, President Basescu is trying to exploit people’s dissatisfaction with a 580 MPs parliament in two houses. Repeating the 2009 referendum this autumn would give the opposition parties the opportunity to point at USL as the ones who refuse to observe the electorate’s will, already expressed. The president is anticipating this: ‘the electorate will sanction them.’ Aware that this move would be inconvenient for PM Ponta, Traian Basescu said it plainly: ‘Would this move mean calm for him? I will be a president that is disturbing him.’
Without putting it directly, President Basescu is also keen to demolish brick by brick the political opponents and PM Victor Ponta. Although not running for another mandate, Traian Basescu will try, as always, to be one step ahead in the ring of political fights. Anticipating public reactions, the political foes’ strategy, he would most certainly try to put USL and the Ponta government on defensive positions, to make them lose popularity in the benefit of the centre-right parties and to the centre-right candidate for presidential elections.
Mistakes coming from PM Ponta make things easier for the president. The Nastase case is the latest in matters of political skidding. The premier said Nastase received a political sentence and he is a victim of the Basescu regime, while comparing Nastase’s situation with Yulia Tymoshenko’s in Ukraine. Yesterday the presidential administration issued a release reading that President Traian Basescu imperatively urged PM Victor Ponta to cease any attack against justice and to re-enter the prerogatives of the prime-minister.
It remains to be seen whose strategy in the field of ‘bricks’ is better. For the time being one may notice only who the ‘weakest link’ is.