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August 10, 2022

A former minister’s future

Vasile Blaga has resigned. The general impression is that he was a victim of the president. In other words, Traian Basescu turned to his advantage the unusual street protests staged by a group of Police employees, to remove from the equation of power an influential leader of the ruling party. The reason invoked by the former Interior Minister supports this impression. Vasile Blaga said he was against sanctioning the heads of Police and Gendarmerie – his subalterns – and handed down his resignation to avoid being forced to do so.
With this regard, things seem to be clear: infuriated by the injurious slogans shouted at him by the protesting policemen, the president wished to see them severely punished, starting with the top officials of the respective institutions; the Minister of Interior did not want to enter “player president’s” game.

Those used to the intricacies of politics will certainly see this explanation as superficial. Such high-level decisions always have other connotations than the obvious. The president goes through a crisis of popularity – implicitly one of authority. This is a hard to dispute fact. As he always does in such moments, this time too he pressed an attack, but one directed at politicians, rather than policemen. To be spared the humiliation of ruling with a government made by the acting opposition, Traian Basescu needs a reformed party, which is a tough mission for him.

His popularity is declining, the premier and party chief is already seen as an epitome of the Democratic-Liberal governance’s failure, the party heavyweights are seriously eroded and its second-ranking leaders don’t seem fit to save the situation. Most likely, the president chose the solution of a rejuvenation that leaves no place for half-measures. Radu Berceanu and Adriean Videanu already left the Cabinet, in a reshuffling imbued with political connotations. It is obvious that the Democrat-Liberals will send the members of the acting Cabinet as spearhead in the next elections. This is why this team must look differently. The most delicate aspect refers to the premier. With Emil Boc as leader, the party is hardly in a position to win the elections. But who can replace him? This is a recurrent question for the president. Vasile Blaga was among the few valid alternatives. A reasonable man, experienced in the matters pertaining to public administration, also an old and influential party member, he was however versatile and not too bright, rather prudent and reluctant to make risky moves. Vasile Blaga was a leader frustrated by the ascension of Emil Boc, who put the party into relation of excessive dependence from its presidential mentor. It took Traian Basescu a long while to think what he should do with him, and he came with a decision that was anything but easy. Through the years, Vasile Blaga was a reliable leader. Removing him from power is a difficult gesture, especially as there are ever fewer politicians he can rely upon. His future position is still unclear. He still is an influential leader of the party, someone the president cannot do without. Vasile Blaga may still be co-opted in a future political project, or Traian Basescu might favour a very thorough rejuvenation that will actually marginalise the old leaders.

Anyway, the formerMinister of Interior does not have the renewal potential implied by a large-scale operation aimed at improving the image of the party. At most, he might impersonate the leader of a coup against the mentor in Cotroceni, leading a party that will enjoy more autonomy than today. This might be the second scenario, acceptable for Traian Basescu, if it is part of an ambitious plan that will give the illusion of divergences, aimed at regaining people’s confidence in both Basescu and his party.

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