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March 3, 2021

Basescu at Political Club meeting: Elites must become politically engaged

In his address to the annual meeting of the Political Club held at Cotroceni Palace, President Traian Basescu said that ‘the elites must become politically engaged’, because ‘it is the only chance Romania has’ and pointed out that ‘there are too many non-qualified people in Romanian politics’. ‘About two weeks ago I was surprised by this invitation to the Political Club meeting. I looked it up on the Internet, everywhere and I asked the Communication Department to find the website of the club, without success. On the other hand, I have gradually found out that many politicians attend the meetings of the club which regularly take place in a more restricted formula and in relatively public places – a restaurant or some other public place. I asked how many participants would be for a meeting with me at the Political Club. I was told 15-20. <But is this club big?? They said <Yes, quite big, but if we meet at a restaurant…> and then I said <Why not come to Cotroceni to hold the Club meeting, especially since it is the annual meeting. Let’s hold it here and invite as many as the members of the club as possible>. Initially we had arranged to hold the meeting ’n one of the Museum halls, a room of 5-100 seats. Then, when the list of confirmations began to grow, I said: <We must change the room> and this hall seems to be able to take no more than 300-400 guests whop are here tonight’, Traian Basescu said at the beginning of his speech, according to the press release sent by the Presidential Administration to Mediafax.
The president pointed out that what had fascinated him in respect of the invitation was that it was a club whose mission was to stimulate the elite to enter politics, which – he said – was the ‘communication channel’ through which he had decided to make the invitation to Cotroceni.
‘Because I am one of the politicians who say – in vain, as we have all seen – that we need a new political community, that we need a political elite made up of people who know who they are, made up of professionals, of people who, if they quit politics, have a profession, a domain, a qualification to turn to. There are too many non-qualified people in Romanian politics and not because they do not have a degree, but because in their respective trades they are nobody. Under such conditions, you can only expect them that once arrived to the place of political decision-making, on a good Tuesday, they gather a hundreds laws and vote without knowing what they are voting for. I am convinced that the deficit of professional training and conscience of own professional strength make far too many of the 588 MPs mere political ballast. This is why the message of the club <Engage in politics, anywhere you want, but just engage in politics!> seems to me an extremely important message’, Basescu said.
The president added that the club’s political neutrality, the fact that it has no political ideology, combined with its call on valuable people to join politics seemed to him ‘almost an act of charity to Romania’.
‘Value drought in politics is huge’
‘Drought in politics, drought of values is huge and not because Romania has no values, but because the values have driven away from politics also because of the depreciation of the credibility of the political class in the eyes of the general public. But the only solution is for the elite to say: here is the political community but I, as a person of valour, I take the risk of entering this community and, as it took us 25 years to completely erode its credibility, it may take us five-six years to restore its credibility through the persons who join it’, he noted.
‘We are unable to complete a reform of political parties because the leaders of political parties do not want the reform which, when made, is painful. As someone who conducted the experiment of an internal party reform at a difficult time for that party, I can tell you that it wasn’t easy. I was the president of PD when we decided, for example, by decision of the Standing Bureau, that no councillor, mayor or deputy mayor could stay in the party if they were doing business with the local authority where they worked. That was in 2002, when PD had seven per cent in the opinion polls. It was an internal reform that brought along major losses, but the party took a resources that enabled it to grow to 35 per cent. Now the process needs to be redone because, unless ongoing standards are applied, the quality of the political structure depreciated. I gave you the PD example while I have no connection with it and this is not a way of promoting PD. I just meant to say that the call made by the president here is an absolutely reasonable one, especially if it finalises with your conviction that you can participate in the political life, which would be an extraordinary achievement’, Traian Basescu also said.
The head of state pleaded for the engagement of the elite in politics. ‘I can assure you that the ones who will suffer if the quality of the political class does not improve are not those who do politics at the highest level – MPs, presidents. No, you are the ones who will suffer or you will suffer alongside the 20 M Romanians. You, the elite, will also suffer’, he said.
‘If you want, as a president approaching the end of his term, someone who has seen a lot these 10 years and who has understood a lot of how the state operates and also why the state doesn’t operate and why Romania does not make progress fast enough, I am closing by telling you: elites must engage in politics. It’s the only chance Romania has. The quality of Romania’s political structure is so poor that it cannot guarantee the positive evolution at the rhythm that could be set without the contribution of the elite’, was the president’s conclusion.

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