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October 20, 2020
EDITORIAL

What about tomorrow?

When this ‘Nine O’Clock’ issue reaches the news stands, we already know whether the Parliament passed or rejected the no-confidence motion initiated by the opposition. In other words, we know whether or not we still have a government.


This happens at a constitutional level. In terms of the public perception, however, many of us often wondered if we really have a government at all – a functioning one, I mean, capable to make decisions in times of crisis, other than cutting pensions and salaries, and to restart the economic engines – or at least to try it.


This is why it seems rather irrelevant if the Boc Cabinet stays in place. Anyway, after this no-confidence vote, things will certainly change – something that has been often said and is true, this time as well. PM Boc is running “out of fuel” and his role in politics is nearing to an end. Toppled by motion or not, Mr. Boc surely already packed up and is ready to return to his hometown Cluj. An increasing number of voices in Democratic-Liberal Party are asking for a thorough cabinet reshuffling. There seems to be a fight between the various circles of influence within the party, where the old “barons” like Videanu, Blaga and Berceanu have come under fire and are asked to leave, but are still holding enough power – something demonstrated by their frequent statements contradictory to those of the premier. Other voices are targeting Elena Udrea, Daniel Funeriu or Teodor Baconschi.


With free-falling popularity (an in-house poll ordered by PDL and quoted by Gandul finds the party lost 10 pc in May alone, while support for President Traian Basescu dropped under 20 pc), the acting Cabinet will disappear either suddenly, now, or slowly, in the months to come – collapsing under its own weight, or because of its inefficiency.


The Boc governments (the current one is the 4th, apparently) can be defined as immature, oscillating and without a clear vision, no matter who are their ministers (with or without PSD, as it was the case until September 2009). They seem to be taken from the famous US series ‘Twin Peaks,’ directed by David Lynch, where “nothing is what it seems.” If surrealistic scenes are predominant in the movie, in the case of the government, the lack of realism is obvious.


It got in power when the global economic downturn started showing its effects. At the ‘zero’ moment, and even one year later, government officials were boldly claiming that Romania will get past the crisis and we’ll forget the problems fast. Now, when we are about to collapse, an increasing number of Cabinet ministers admit they knew how bad the situation was since early 2009, but nothing was done about it. Furthermore, Radu Berceanu, Sebastian Vladescu, Vasile Blaga and PM Emil Boc admit they did not tell the truth and they could have still delayed telling the truth to the public (lying, to put it bluntly), for a few more months. But they preferred to tell the truth now… We should be even grateful to them, in other words.


The Executive was an example of incoherence. Each measure (in fact there were only few of them, and ineffective) was subject to much debate and interpretation. Moreover, some ministers preferred to confess live on TV, rather than speak their mind in Cabinet meetings. This led to inadvertences, disputes and speculation about replacing some ministers. The recent “dissonance” between Elena Udrea and Vasile Blaga is just an example that sparked much speculation about the pressure aimed at removing the acting Interior minister from the Cabinet.


The lack of unity between Cabinet members was more than obvious. Above all, rather than putting the ministers of PDL against those of UDMR, or the so-called independents (except for the dispute between the ministers of Defence, Gabriel Oprea, and Public Finance, Sebastian Vladescu, over military pensions), the dissensions turn the Democrat-Liberal ministers against each other. The recent dispute about a possible (opportune?) loan from the IMF once again proves that, without a real boss, people tend to discuss rather on corridors. The idea was voiced last Sunday by Minister Vasile Blaga, on TV (where else?). “Personally, I believe that Romania needs a new accord with the IMF. A new accord with the IMF also implies a new loan,” Blaga said. The government, however, denied it taking the idea in consideration. Then, on Monday, two more ministers came with completely different opinions. Radu Berceanu told us that “we must see how we’ll implement this accord in the coming months, and only then have this discussion. I don’t even know if such a talk did exist.” (…) The Transport minister of the Cabinet does not know if such a discussion took place? And, to make the picture complete, Economics Minister Adriean Videanu told us, the same day: “An accord with the IMF is welcome.”


The absurdity of situations going on in the Executive has become obvious during the months of crisis. During 2005-2006, former Justice Minister Monica Macovei – who now represents PDL in the European Parliament – has become some sort of common enemy of her fellow party members. Of late, she came against Vasile Blaga, over some state contracts awarded to a company controlled by Blaga’s son-in-law. The reformist Macovei, the most appreciated personality in Brussels in terms of fight against corruption, seems to have become a black sheep in PDL. And she is not alone. The voices that demand essential changes and removing from power the morally and politically “dubious” politicians are effectively silenced.


The same silence was “embraced” by the player-president Traian Basescu, who assumed the unpopular measures last month, along with the Executive. He only talked with the Democrat-Liberals in Snagov, in a desperate attempt to put things in order. But the Cotroceni Palace is surrounded by complete silence. Used to the people’s affection in the past, the head of state now prefers to keep away from the unrest of a crowd that is getting ever more vocal.


But we should not worry for the fate of Boc Cabinet. It belonged to an unsafe party, near dissolution, though it was in power. The essential problem is how we’ll manage what this Cabinet will leave behind, today or in a short while.

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