The permanent revolution

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Parties are like people. Regardless of the passing of time and of the contexts and situations they face throughout their existence, their character and personality, once formed, can no longer be changed in essence.

The current PSD, or the Left in political translation, represents a more branded and “rejuvenated” variant of the paternal FSN of the 1990s. One that underwent the plastic surgery of time and went under the knife of democratic principles but that, in essence, gives birth to the same ideologies and descendants whose tendencies, as can be well seen, fail to keep up very much and very well with the times and with the pretences of its outward look.

Not long ago, I was saying that, after just nine months in Government and less than a year since taking over power in Romania, the PSD has already failed the test of social and electoral approval. And, worse and most worrisome of all, the test of viability and feasibility when it comes to governance.

The long years spent in the Opposition during the mandates and Governments of Traian Basescu should have made PSD a party with a higher capacity to adapt to the true needs and realities of a Romania that has exited the communist era for some time now. An era when the party-state and the unique leader – loved or feared – represented the only raison d’etre for a country prisoner to darkness, cold, silence and terror. A country unwaveringly subjected to the will, vision and cult of the supreme leader whose despotic and aberrant will resulted in agricultural production growing by tens of thousands of tons per hectare, mountains being made out of gold and diamonds, people being at the height of happiness and the pharaonic and brilliant five-year plan being sung in odes, receiving standing ovations from all comrade party members enthusiastically and obediently present at the meetings, plenary meetings and congresses of the Romanian Communist Party’s Central Committee.

In politics, it is said that staying in the Opposition prepares and trains a party so as to be able to perform more successfully in the governmental rotation.

But only to the extent that the party proves to have the real capacity and will to surpass itself and to redraw its limits through correct, point-by-point and radical evaluation and re-evaluation of its internal conception and mechanisms. Starting from the top and finishing with its wide base.

However, this is pure theory. The ideal part of any democracy in general and of the Romanian democracy of the last 28 years in particular.

In fact, what we have been seeing for the past year and what is happening within PSD, not just in the last year but for 28 years, is far, very far from any type of change or at least intention – no matter how flimsy – to change into something better than the former, the current and most likely the future Romanian Left, translated exclusively as PSD.

Liviu Dragnea took power within PSD two years ago. Or, more exactly, Liviu Dragnea sacked Victor Ponta from the helm of PSD through the same exercise of dangerous and incredible tenacity and lack of scruples that he proved in the case of Mircea Geoana too.

Once he took power in the party, Liviu Dragnea started to do what any other left-wing leader before him did best and most accurately – concentrate all power and control levers in the hands of the party leader.

From the moment he took over power, Liviu Dragnea entered a new level of the fight he had waged up to that moment to reach the top position and to sit at the top of the party oligarchy pyramid. That of capturing, reorienting and eventually isolating the other power groups within the party.

Because, as I believe is already known and no longer represents a great secret, the power of the Social Democratic Left has always been structured and disseminated into various groups of interests centred on certain characters holding huge influence at the level of the party’s internal network. Barons, whiter or blacker hats, more talented and more skilful whisperers, shadows more or less loyal to one leader or another, all these entities that formed – in time and throughout PSD’s history – groups of power and interests, represented – and still do – the most complicated and dangerous problem of the great Social Democratic brotherhood. A continuous threat, one to another and together, as a phalanx, to the one who subsequently broke ranks with them and managed to end up at the helm of the party and of the Left.

Liviu Dragnea is one of the emblematic exponents of this veritable inter-party oligarchic octopus of the PSD.

Doubled by the offensive to take over all important state structures via and with the help of the party camarillas loyal to the current leader of the left wing, the effect and collateral damage of this level of battle is the entire political picture seen outside the PSD power centre – a completely anarchic governance, continuously undermined by Mr Dragnea’s personal interests, lacking any stability and practical palpability for the Romanian state.

For Liviu Dragnea, the Romanian state has become a veritable playground in which to experiment his personal power. On the huge chessboard of power, the leader of the Left chaotically manoeuvres, like a steamroller, knights and bishops, pawns and rooks, grouping and regrouping Governments, keeping in check the whole state structure, creating for himself lanes of attack toward the queen – Justice –, manipulating impressions and emotions, executing and promoting Prime Ministers and ministers, dictating solutions, stances and names, behind a mask of political decency, innocence and neutrality.

And all of this for a purpose that, at least so far, seems a sinister joke of a mind deprived of any trace of imagination and profoundness.

At first glance, this entire diabolical cavalcade of Mr Dragnea, his saddle well placed on the back of the Romanian state and the bridle’s bit deeply stuck in the mouth of the ruling power, seems to have a sole and obsessive stake – getting out from under the Justice’s crosshairs and whip – doubled by a gluttonous will to maintain absolute control in the party-state.

However, I personally find it extremely hard to believe that, after you spent more than two decades making your way up to the summit of power, with tenacity, effort and unimaginable humiliations, serving the PSD’s great and powerful of the quarter of century, once you reach the long-desired treasure and sceptre, your only major and absolute preoccupation – as the number one person in the party and in the state’s elite politics – is to waste your valuable lessons-learned and resources by boiling everything down to a stake that, in the end, will be levelled down by time in the collective memory. A stake whose petty satisfaction is to avenge those years of “political apprenticeship” through a continuous demonstration of your own ambitions and of respect imposed with a mailed fist.

In fact, it is said a person who excessively uses power and its darkness to impose respect and obedience is in fact a weak person terrified by this whole power and one that will be, in the end, crushed by it.

And the facts and people from PSD’s history speak eloquently and more than sufficiently about this sad truth.

Not that it would be surprising or the first time in the history of contemporary Romania that a large and all-ruling political party were to have at its helm a leader that is inversely proportional – in terms of vision and stake in the political power game – to the magnitude of the party he rules. Because, fortunately or unfortunately, a person’s power is not automatically and necessarily synonymous with the power and amplitude of a party.

In conclusion, how can one sum up these eternal governmental crises that have been stirring up Romania for well over a year, and what is their purpose?

One of the potentially true answers to this national dilemma is that Liviu Dragnea is in a real and grave inability to govern a country otherwise than by resorting to the only way he has experienced so far – that of intrigues and coups he got accustomed to at the bosom of the party.

A political party is not a country. And a country, albeit in the variant of a parallel state hostile to a party-state, cannot be forcefully shoved into the dimensions and rules of a party-man.