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December 1, 2021

The burden of too many choices

The Liberals are suspected of playing at both ends. On one hand, they are attempting to consolidate the unity of the opposition in order to act more efficiently against the ruling party. On the other, aware of the Social-Democrats’ competing ambitions, they are also constrained to take into account rebuilding the ties with that same ruling party. The current situation in which the three large parties may enter any type of alliance, as it happened in later years, has the downside of the mutual trust of potential partners being close to nil.

After so many betrayals in the past, nobody really trusts anybody else anymore, which means nothing but a circumstantial binder might do the trick, with a shaky balance alone qualifying for it. Even the Social-Democrats, riding high on the popularity wave as they do, need allies. But the mere post-electoral postponement of such decision does nothing but compounds the uncertainty.

The Social-Democrats have actually practiced a most intense exercise in ambiguity all these years. Originally, while in the opposition, they lent their support to the Liberal minority government, yet not without much debating with a president hostile to Liberals, only to then accede to power alongside the president’s party. Yet, when the opportunity arose for a change at the top, presidential elections namely, they aligned themselves with the Liberals, yet again. The bound is still in place, though, upbeat about their full-fledged return to power on the back of the lack of popularity of this government, the president and the idea of the right in general, they allow themselves to behave rather arrogantly.

Ambiguity is not in short supply in the Democrat-Liberal camp either. At first, they reaped the advantage of president’s popularity to rise themselves against all the others. Then, they had to enter an alliance with the former foes only to then carry on governing all by themselves under what became a fragile balance. After years of railing against former allies, the Democrat-Liberals are now open to fresh cooperation, the only way out of going adrift.

In their turn, Liberals don’t know which to choose between the two fickle and arrogant parties. Their president, Crin Antonescu, so eager to win the next presidential elections, would rather build his campaign around an ideological option, in tune with the so far subtle offer made by Teodor Baconschi, aimed at somehow rebuilding the unity of the right around Christian-Democracy. Yet, for this to happen, a change needs to happen in the ruling government. The foreign minister may be a smooth partner in dialogue, given his lacking the aggressive compulsion of President Basescu. Despite vowing to stay loyal to its fellow opposition party, the Liberal leader is not immune to the seduction of such alliance. A pre-electoral agreement with the Social-Democrats is difficult, given such potential political construction lacks impetus and is burdened by constraints too. It is exactly the president’s decline in popularity that led to Social-Democrats persisting in their drive to play their card, in the hope of a commanding position, helpful in more demanding negotiations.

However, an alliance between Liberals and Democrat-Liberals may have two consequences for the leftist party. On one hand, it would provide more room for an ideological-prone campaign emphasizing the ideological alternative to two successive terms of the right. At the same time, it would restrain its growth, as any alliance has a dynamic of its own. Adding to this would be the mobilization of an electorate hostile to any Social-Democrat governing alternative.

Given such context, Teodor Baconschi’s appeal to a firmer identity option may prove an inspired move, which would make the other parties as well take in stride such dimension of the political offer. Otherwise, too broad a political association would turn increasingly tainted.

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