The pillars of democracy

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I’m living in Romania and this takes up all my time, as someone once put it. In fact, more accurately said is we are living in Romania and this no longer leaves room for anything else.

And we are living in a democracy. At least theoretically. Because, practically speaking, looking at what is happening inside the state we are living in, we could hardly think that this is democracy and this is how it should be.

Once we acceded to democracy, we received in a package, alongside the freedom we coveted and dreamed of for so long, a lot of things we had no clue about and we still haven’t managed to take stock of, it seems.

And this makes us increasingly confused, unhappy, disoriented, anarchical, alongside the other countries fellow sufferers in the former communist existence and in the current effort – most of the times titanic – to adjust and fall in line with the great and centuries-old continental democracies.

Among many things received in that “democratic full options” pack, we also received institutions whose role is to safeguard this democracy and a set of rules that generate and determine the democratic state, the rule of law.

The rules of democracy are called the Constitution. They have the character of fundamental law of the state. It, the Constitution, is the foundation of the state and the fundamental principle through which any aspect of the life of the state and of its citizens is regulated, defended and guaranteed.

In the last two decades, Romanians have learned that there is a Constitution and that it guarantees a lot of good things. However, paradoxically, Romanians seem not to have understood, except extremely formally and randomly, that the same Constitution represents the way through which notions and facts such as the right to free expression, individual liberty, the statute of the family, the role of state powers, their mandatory separation and the manner in which they can or cannot relate to the state as supreme entity and to its citizens as the state’s force of identity, etc., etc., and through which any Romanian can demand his rights and observe his obligations in relation to the others and in relation to any level of the state he lives in.

The Constitution cannot be broken, nor interpreted whimsically. And for this violation not to occur, democracy thought out and gave birth to an institution (one of several) whose role is that of supreme guarantor of the Constitution – the Constitutional Court.

Yes. The country’s Constitution cannot be and should not become an instrument just fit to turn into a lethal weapon at the disposal of politics, which the latter can manoeuvre and manipulate discretionarily, threatening the stability and freedom of the state and of its citizens, because this would be called anti-democracy and would automatically throw us in the historical abyss we have just managed to get out of, through unimaginable efforts and sacrifices.

Just like the country’s Constitution cannot become a mantra for citizens, to be unconsciously and automatically recited every time we think justice should be done to us because that is what some are telling us. Without really knowing what our true rights, liberties but also obligations that they entail actually consisted of.

I reiterate: the Constitution cannot be interpreted discretionarily and superficially by any of the parties that make up the great state edifice!

Just like the fundamental institutions of the same state, envisioned as the only true levers that make up and generate democracy and everything that stems from it, cannot be interpreted, denigrated, distorted, wanted or refused.

In recent days, the CCR published a reasoning that stirred a veritable storm in the press and, automatically, in the Romanian public opinion. The CCR’s reasoning concerned the decision taken in the case concerning the constitutional conflict between the Government and the Public Ministry, as representative of the judicial branch of government.

Along with this CCR decision, voices started appearing in the public space, asking for the CCR to be dissolved, accusing it of favouring the political class and the decisions it takes aberrantly, completely against the proper progress of Romanian democracy, of the state and of Romanians.

The apple of discord and the source of all the evil, which seems to no longer end since the coming to power of the new PSD Government three months ago, was and remains none other than, obviously, the diabolical and mysterious OUG 13 and the fact that the current ruling power is using the exceptionality entailed by the OUG regime, transforming overnight the exception into the rule of governance and inter-institutional conflict.

It’s useless to review all over again the route and legend of this unfortunate endless story, however what remains important to see and underscore is the reason why the CCR ended up being involved in the over-sized and endless scandal over Ordinance no.13.

In my view, the problem starts long before the issuance of this unfortunate Ordinance. For over two decades, the true and great problem was and remains the way in which politics exists and makes its presence and effects felt in those state areas and aspects that, in fact, should ideally come out from under the political sphere of influence and become independent and self-subsistent, as true pillars of democracy and of the separation of powers in the state.

The judiciary represents such a territory. And on this territory, in Romania, fights that are extremely bloody and often destabilising for the state and the citizens are being waged. The judiciary, in any democratic state of the world, is one of the guarantors of the defence of the principles of democracy, through the very fact that it stands above any subjective manner of looking on and acting to the benefit of the country and its people. However, in today’s Romania, the judiciary has become a kind of unpredictable axe or guillotine, perceived as being at the discretion of politics and in cahoots with it in the most serious and anti-democratic aspects that concern the state’s life. And that is because, going back to the Constitution and the principle of separation of powers as an essential part of the definition of the democratic rule of law, one no longer knows in what position and on which side of the constitutional or political barricade the Romanian judiciary is.

Because, if in a state the presidential constitutional attributes and prerogatives leave room for interpretations and generate a continuous, tiresome and dissolving fight over the taking and holding of power, a fight pitting the country’s president, constitutionally defined as a non-political (!) entity, the Government and Parliament, branches of government that are eminently political and politicized, transforming civil society and state institutions into bastions and armies for or against one political character or another, for or against one political party or another, for or against a political group of interests or another, then the Constitutional Court of Romania is only left the role of scapegoat or “devil’s advocate” in the eyes of the Romanians caught in the middle of this life-and-death struggle between politics and the rest of the country’s institutions.

In a world 100 percent politicized, a world in which any position of strength and endorsement at any level of the state is offered, received or maintained only through political will and directive, democratic constitutional ideals can be very easily broken, interpreted, rendered open to interpretation or cancelled, and the borders between political, semi-political and apolitical become extremely volatile, faded and prone to confusion.

And in a Romania in which the political class of the last decades did nothing else but fully contribute, directly and targeted, to inducing a state of social and state confusion and anarchy, ever growing and ever more profound, any state institution – regardless of its name and what positive attributes it would and should have in the game of democracy – becomes the target of suspicion, fury and, finally, of the desire to negate it and eliminate it from the citizens’ standpoint.

However, we, Romanians, must understand and accept, at least in the 11th hour, that democracy is not just a matter of discourse semantics or an abstract idea devoid of substance and reality, but it’s a condition that is born from within each of us and which passes through all the levels of the state and comes back to us, bringing with it good things and things that are less good, but never a road back toward chaos, dissolution and anarchy.

And in this democracy, in such a difficult cycle all of us have been going through for so long, saying that a state institution – like the one that is the guarantor of the fundamental law of the country, the Constitutional Court of Romania – must be dissolved just because the opinions and media interpretations or those of other voices which are parallel to the true meaning and democratic values of a country are saying that this is the path, the truth and the life, represents a self-cancellation of the rights certified and guaranteed by any of the constitutions of all democracies of the world.

To ask for the CCR to be dissolved just because a political class saw fit and sees fit to operate out of sync with and against the true principles of democracy, it’s as if you would ask for the Church and for all religious traditions of the world to be dissolved just because you are disappointed with God and the way His representatives on Earth manage or fail to convince you that freedom, love, truth and other divine values really exist.