For Romania, 2017 ended with an apotheosis of tensions between civil society and the political world.
Almost every week in December, Romanians took to the streets in a kind of growing symmetry mirroring the speed and rapidity that the political world, the PSD-ALDE ruling coalition in particular, demonstrated when carrying out a series of social measures and legislative packages that are more anti- rather than pro-democracy and pro-European.
The apex was reached at the end of 2017, with the judiciary reform based on political premises. For the same kind of ideas and domestic political procedures, Poland has already received a sanction from the EU at the end of the same 2017. An issue that might in the end cost it its presence in the group of European democratic countries.
On the other hand, in Romania, the political class seems to suffer ever more chronically from a severe and irreversible autistic syndrome.
We ended 2017 poorly. And now, in 2018, just one week since the start of the new year, there are obvious signs that things are continuing to escalate on the same dangerous slope.
The first conclusion of the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018 is that, at present, Romania is led by a single party and a single political will – that of PSD and Liviu Dragnea.
It is outright pointless to still harbour hopes about or even discuss the idea of Opposition. Or at least about the actual existence of some pole of political counterbalance to the Left, that would be able, at this moment and from now on, throughout 2018, to engage in lobbying – as productively as possible, along with the strength and will of civil society – in order to create a modicum of rebalancing of the political axis.
Moreover, and what I believe is the most important thing worthy of signalling and underscoring as the starting point of any 2018 outlook analysis, is and remains the idea that PSD has ceased to be a party within the note, limits, and terms of liberal and European democracy.
It may have never been. However, in recent years, especially in the two years since PSD has taken over power in Romania, it has proven with a vengeance that neo-communist ideology was and remains the conceptual background and the political and social attitude effect amid Romania’s only left-wing pole of the last 28 years.
Starting off from this essential reference point and looking across the whole of 2018, things are not looking and are not sounding good at all when it comes to any of the areas of importance and urgent and maximum social, economic, financial, educational, institutional and, last but not least, political interest. And we will see in the year that is starting just now how things will be felt in a practical and direct manner.
But let us see, in brief, what would be, in a case-by-case and explicit manner, the most important and urgent benchmarks on the political agenda of 2018 and how they could be implemented, or not, in the following 365 days.
- Defining Klaus Iohannis’s position and political role:
It is and remains one of the key elements in the current domestic political game and the stake it has in the immediate period. And, at the same time, it is one of the important keys in a potential strategy to stop PSD’s increasingly aggressive assault on civil society and on the whole state system.
Klaus Iohannos cannot and must not remain solely a state entity limited to having a decorative function of state protocol. A simple high-level official strictly and counterproductively confined between the walls of the literal enunciations of the Romanian state’s Constitution.
The time has come for the incumbent president to express its position on PSD’s whole display directly, radically, and practically. One should not somehow understand that the President taking a stance or an attitude with direct effects would automatically have political valences. The country’s president cannot substitute the political Opposition. But the country’s president can and must directly exercise one of the most important prerogative of the presidential institution – that of mediator between various state planes and entities.
PSD systematically threatening Klaus Iohannis with political checkmate (impeachment) – an issue that has become redundant and cyclical if we are to recall the episodes from the Traian Basescu vs PSD cycle – represents nothing but yet another great and irrefutable proof that the democratic line and behaviour is completely absent from this party’s DNA. Because, against the backdrop of the already existing chaos and anarchy, the continuous threat of impeachment no longer represents an issue of “niche political game,” but a direct attack on the democratic values of the Romanian state and on the well-being and interests of Romanians.
Hence, the time has come for the President to take on the role and credit conferred upon him by Romanians and to exercise his right to political and social veto.
- The imminent need for the emergence of a new centre-right political nucleus
For almost two years, the Romanian political scene has looked like a machine that lost its direction and reins and is backsliding in an unending uncontrollable sequence, being at risk of leaving the road and destroying everything in its path.
However, recently, in this whole chaos, a small but increasingly visible rescue buoy has appeared: Dacian Ciolos.
In the most politically correct terms, as I said it before, Dacian Ciolos seems to be (at least at this moment and from the standpoint of the whole current domestic and external political balance sheet) the only entity with political hues and initiatives that could reform and re-think the Right and the entire concept of Romanian political Opposition.
Because Dacian Ciolos is the only man and potentially political man who, now, theoretically and qualitatively, has that socio-political resume appreciated at European level. His entire route so far reveals those attributes and signs that make us think about a possible reset and upgrade of the entire political system of the last 28 years and of the Romanian democratic paradigm. Something that, well-thought and well-aimed and especially extremely well implemented, could save Romania from the imminent disaster already experienced by Poland and Hungary.
Dacian Ciolos is not recommended by the politics he did so far, but by the people for whom he could engage in politics.
However, Dacian Ciolos represents only a single and yet uninhabited island in the great political ocean gripped by the hurricane.
Maybe a Dacian Ciolos – Klaus Iohannis duo might form a first crew of a rescue boat for Romania.
Nevertheless, no matter which party appears on the right side of the current spectrum, it will mandatorily have to have already structured a programme of socio-political and economic reforms that could be implemented from the start, in the mirror and in real time with each of PSD’s current and future moves.
Theoretically, this seems impossible now. And that is because of the vacuum of power created in the Opposition’s area. Basically, things can become unpredictable and surprisingly different from one moment to the next.
This new right-wing party must have, already prepared, the solutions and the whole arsenal for their direct implementation.
However, let us not forget and keep continuously alive the idea that 2018 precedes 2019, the year of presidential elections in Romania.
A new powerful duo made up by Dacian Ciolos – civil society – Klaus Iohannis could suddenly and incalculably overturn and counterbalance the nucleus of the Left’s political forces, diminishing and maybe even annihilating their all-ruling rise and steamrolling.
- The rethinking of the whole system of political parties and doctrines and the right-wing parties’ shift into a meta-democratic coalition.
A coalition of all the parties that are now located on the right side of the Romanian political spectrum can create a new instrument of approach and counterbalance in the face of the PSD-ALDE coalition. And this new formula of the Right could take the form of a meta-democratic coalition.
In short, a meta-democratic coalition consisting of the whole right-wing political pole would ensure the preservation, solidification and boosting of the current democratic values still existing in Romania, which – without a new political recipient that would accumulate, store, and enrich them – remain exposed and vulnerable to the continuous, aggressive, discretionary and ever more undemocratic assault of the current ruling coalition.
The right-wing meta-democratic power pole could thus monitor and efficiently support vital aspects of the state, such as: the independence of the judiciary, pluripartidism, the decentralisation of political and bureaucratic power, the reformation of the political class, the creation of a real channel of communication with civil society and implicitly with the country’s electoral egregor, the rethinking and restructuring of the whole constitutional and state architecture in terms and from premises completely new and completely connected to the level and trend of European democracies. Forming and upholding a parliamentary political counterbalance that would truly succeed in penetrating and influencing the emergent area of the political Left in order to be able to determine it to manifest itself within the limits of those invisible and yet so sensitive and important lines of a real democracy.
And, last but not least, one of the most important points on the agenda of 2018 remains that of civil society’s unity and cohesion. As the starting and closing point of any growth and positive transformation of everything that Romania signifies now or at any time.