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October 21, 2021

A more modest Olympus for Zeus

The People’s Movement is turning into a political party sooner than expected. Traian Basescu is not really suitable for just an NGO. He is most likely very eager to leave Cotroceni to plunge into something he is so good at: aggressive polemics and handling everybody without mittens. Now, in this diplomatic cohabitation arrangement, he is more or less like in a political semi-exile. He can’t afford too amble moves, fearing possible humiliation. This cohabitation turned into his unhoped-for chance to re-start his career. His second chance is the trend of the new PDL to build an identity without his almighty mentor since over a decade ago. Better said, the mentor that lost interest in a party which had become a burden, or, anyway, a political vehicle powered by a chuffing engine. What’s PDL without Basescu, without his vocal ‘reformist’ intellectuals, without the credit given for representing the Right?

Vasile Blaga came to the top far too late, at a time when the party has the bleakest outlook. For a few simple reasons: the impoverishment of the population, exacerbated clientelism and right-wing demagogy. A new party could save some of PDL’s heritage based on older or newer aims, in the hope of a second chance. What PDL’s ‘reformists’ could not achieve may be re-launched by the People’s Movement – here is a pretence appropriate for the mythology of the new party: a leader with populist resources, a less stained team, an enhanced right-wing fidelity, a refuge for honourable dissidents and a generous political offer. The chosen objectives seem appealing, although not lacking contradictions of substance. Insisting for a unicameral parliament and regionalisation at the same time means running after two rabbits at the same time, taking the risk of not getting either. The distance voting combined with some serious administrative changes could generate important ‘bureaucratic’ malfunctions, while still not resolving the Romanian problem which is more serious than in appearance: galloping absenteeism. Expecting regionalisation to reduce economic disparities (actually by administrative decisions) is a naïve thing, as any benefits will first have to survive the competitions of regions. Also, counting on the reform of the food market is a challenge with some of the most diverse consequences.

What party can actually lead an effective fight against multinationals operating in the food industry?
However, before anything else, the new people’s party must come out of the tail of small parties that keep trying to re-launch the Right in front of a Left now obviously more influential. And still united, as any trend more to the left of PSD are unable to overcome their anarchic dimension for the time being. It will still take them time to resolve their differences (feminists versus neo-Marxists, for example), to be capable of organising themselves as a party and join the electoral competition. The Right generates small parties more easily, but, for now, it is just fragmentation, not a real prolific surplus. Who will be on the lists in the future European Parliament election and who will be the presidential candidate? Probably ‘experienced’ politicians, immigrants from the various parties, next to a few presidential advisers and some new, ‘promising’ and ‘unstained’ figures. The presidential candidate is most likely already in Traian Basescu’s head, but the past has shown he doesn’t necessarily have the best hand in that respect. MRU and Baconschi were disqualified before their time from the informal competition. The season of transfers and defections is just beginning. Polemics with PDL is so much more profitable than a premature agreement. But the new party will also need a different inflow of members ad the massive presence of fugitives will reduce some of its novelty aura, discouraging people who will see just a reformed PDL. In addition, with his balance of popularity and even his capacity to reinvent himself, Traian Basescu cannot hope for an `ad personam`. He is not in Vladimir Putin’s position, he is a president antipathised by many, responsible for many failures in the last ten years which he has dominated without being able to preen on too many things. It was his opponents’ mistakes that gave him a position on the political stage he was about to leave, defeated. We need to wait for the first congress of the new party to get an idea about its chances in the future, judging from who will be pushed forward.

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