President takes pity on Romanians who will have to pay 0,04 bani more for the fuel as of April and accuses the Cabinet, the IMF and more recently, even the National Bank of Romania, our beacon of stability, of working together against the wellbeing of his compatriots.
But is the president’s concern for the welfare of Romanians genuine or this sudden and atypical worry has something to do with him getting involved in launching his new party, the Popular Movement, into the election battle for the European ballot?
Judging on his actions in the past nine years at Cotroceni, this inflexible stand regarding the hiking of the fuel tax seems indeed dodgy. Let’s recall some of the moments of his term that made him the staunchest promoter of zero austerity:
November 2009, two days ahead the presidential ballot, Traian Basescu said in the last seconds of the last televised debate: of the campaign “please, please I want to say one thing only. Romania overcame the economic crisis. People should know.”
August 2010. President tells the nation that in order ‘to save’ the economy, together with the IMF, the (his) government decided to cut salaries by 25 percent and the pensions and the unemployment benefits by 15 percent. More so, most of the social benefits were cut or eliminated altogether. The sea captain, turned president, was arrogantly was advising Romanians a few days later, whilst leaving a restaurant at the Black Sea Coast where he was spending the summer holidays, that they should stop complain about the salary and pension chop and told them to follow his personal example, when he was crossing the worst storms at sea always holding his head up.
Fact is that the president did not have any concern and totally lacked empathy for the hundreds of Romanians who committed suicide because of the salary cuts and lost jobs, nor did he felt sorry for the abandoned children, whose foster parents returned them to the children’s homes because of the salary and the allowances cuts, nor for the elder and the sick who were thrown out of the hospitals in the remote parts of the country, because of the ‘cost-efficient reform’ of the hospitals. The fact that he has been told by the Constitutional Court that cutting pensions is illegal, didn’t impress him, and the player president, found a new ruse (also illegal). As chief of government that he was (until USL overthrown the PDL Cabinet), by unilaterally extending his powers in the executive area against the constitutional prerogatives, Basescu decided to tax pensions. The decision didn’t bring any relief to the national budget and didn’t improve the fiscal situation of the country. Quite on the contrary. The decision was overturned a year and a half later at the call of USL, in opposition at the time, by the Constitutional Court, and the Ponta Cabinet had to return the money stolen from pensioners by the Basescu-PDL regime. So much suffering, so much injustice, and for what? Basescu thought that once president he became an expert in the economics and finances and in other areas such as the Judiciary, despite his area of expertise being naval transportation. As it was later revealed, the IMF delegation that was conducting negotiations straight with Basescu bypassing the Cabinet, and the Economy Minister had no idea about the intention of the president to cut salaries and pensions. The decision was taken by Basescu alone. And because Basescu doesn’t like to be contradicted, he tried to convince the Constitutional Court in December 2011, during an announced and illegitimate meeting with the members of the Court, to not overturn the economic decisions taken by his government, namely to not declare unconstitutional the tax on pensions. As we remember, mass protests followed, with people demanding in the streets the respect of the independence of the Constitutional Court. The Court gave in to the street pressure, and for once in a blue moon, decided to respect the law and declared the tax illegal and unconstitutional. This was the first battle won by the people against the Basescu-PDL regime and the rest is history.
Now, the president is calling Romanians to defend themselves against the fuel hike tax in the streets. He appeals to the same Romanians who took to the streets against his inhumane austerity measures. Why is the president so desperate and why does he want people to believe that he is defending their rights and wellbeing?
First of all, the whole fuel tax hike is insignificant. Following the hike, the fuel price will increase by 0.04 RON (4 bani), less than the increase that already took place in January, when the gas stations increased the fuel by 9-10 bani per litre. Why didn’t the president react to that hike? What is the game he is playing right now, and to what avail?
As we well know, the president is a chameleon, and if he wants to achieve something he might even cry and pretend that he cares about his fellow compatriots as against his previous statement when he was appealing to them to show solidarity with other EU countries that, in his own view, where harder hit by the recession than Romania. But inciting to civil disobedience for nonsense seems too much even for Traian Basescu. The key to this masquerade is the PMP, the Popular Movement Party, the party created by his presidential aides at his orders and whose name was registered by his own daughter. Needless to say that the president must be politically independent and he is banned from leading political parties or getting involved in politics, according to the constitutional prerogatives. Fact is that he did exactly the opposite since his first day of presidentship and the two attempts of impeachment failed because of the poor regulations in Romania. Therefore people got used with the president making and dismantling political parties and they resigned themselves to the fact that no matter what Basescu does, how many times he breaches the Constitution, he stays on and that’s nothing anyone can do about it. This is probably how the rule of law should work in Brussels’s view and we don’t understand here very well how it works…
Anyways, Basescu is very interested in launching PMP in the electoral battle and therefore he is willing to play the good guy against the bad boys from the government. We will see if he succeeds to this game and if he still represents a good card to play for a political party or if he is a liability, as the opinion polls tend to show.