In an article “Where Now For Romania’s Social Democrats?” published by “Social Europe Journal”, senator Mircea Geoana, freshly expelled from the Social Democrat Party (PSD,) makes a tough analysis of the party’s failure in the last presidential elections and excoriates the party’s president, Victor Ponta for all mistakes he has made so far not only in the election campaign, but also as the leader of this political formation.
“What happened? Was Iohannis’s victory with a huge margin of 55% to 45% a vote against Victor Ponta, one against the PSD or a combination of both? Why is the PSD losing the presidency of Romania the third time in a row? What is the state of the Left in the one country in CEE where social democrats constantly represent the single largest political force?,” asks Geoana in the article he contributed to www.social-europe.eu.
“Let’s have a quick look at the election campaign of Victor Ponta, widely considered as one of the ugliest and trivial in the quarter of a century of democratic elections in Romania. Sacrificing the fundamental values of the Left, Ponta chose to attack his counter candidate with the tools of the Ceasusescu propaganda toolkit: his German background, his faith, his parents (harassed by a TV station owned by a close associate of Mr. Ponta in the small city in Germany where they now live) and, to make things even worse, preposterous allegations of child and organ trafficking in the 1990’s by Klaus Johannis, then a young local education inspector! Moreover, the formal endorsement of Mr. Ponta by the far right Corneliu Vadim Tudor (with 4% of the vote in the first round) made the Hungarian minority in Romania (with two candidates in the first round) massively (85%) vote for Mr. Johannis, despite the formal coalition in government of the PSD and the Hungarian party, UDMR,” writes Mircea Geoana.
Ponta’s Gov’t did nothing to allow Diaspora to vote in normal conditions
In his view, “ the most dramatic and emotional moment of the campaign was triggered by the poor (and some believe deliberate) organisation of the vote for the massive Romanian Diaspora in Europe”. “In the first round, tens of thousands of fellow Romanians, lining in long queues in front ot the Romanian embassies and consulates, were not able to cast their vote. To make things even worse, for the second round of the vote on November 16th, Mr. Ponta’s government did nothing (other than cosmetical improvements) to allow the Romanian Diaspora (the number of voters doubled in the second round) to have normal conditions to vote. Long queues and up to 9 hours wait triggered a huge emotion and outrage across the country so connected with the 2,5 million or so fellow citizens abroad. Violent incidents confronting angry young Romanian voters with the riot police in Milan, Turin or Paris made headline news around the world. Mass demonstrations against Mr. Ponta and his government erupted in the big cities of Romania, smartly amplified by PNL, the center right party supporting Mr. Johannis. A criminal investigation is now under way looking into the perceived deliberate obstruction of the fundamental right to vote,” the former PSD leader told Social Europe Journal.
PSD’s leader autocratic tendencies amplify concern about “the party-state”
He puts the magnifying glass on the causes of Ponta’s catastrophic defeat by his contender and points the finger to the main topics that have generated such a situation and that explain why is the PSD incapable of winning a presidential election with a big turnout: accusations of communism, arrogance and corruption accumulated against the party over the last 25 years
“But is Mr. Ponta’s and his campaign team’s abysmal performance the only cause for this catastrophic defeat? Is there anything about the PSD that would make any party candidate suffer? “Partidul-stat” – the Party-State – is one standard accusation against the PSD. Mr. Ponta’s autocratic tendencies as party leader have amplified this concern,” writes Mircea Geoana.
“Corruption was another big topic of the campaign. Ponta, with many of the PSD local and national leaders, made a strong case to amend legislation or procrastinate the stripping of immunity of a number of prominent MPs (from all parties). This went against popular sentiment. Routinely presenting the avalanche of indictments as a witch-hunt by justice officials, politically orchestrated by loyalists of president Basescu, Ponta confirmed an older perception of the PSD – protecting corrupt politicians. The chaotic and sometimes utterly incompetent way to run the business of government was another line of attack. Dealings and allegedly privileged access to public contracts by inner circle and media moguls close to the PM were widely accused in a country in desperate need of public investments and job creation,” Geoana noted.
Ponta,” autistic to the public outcry”
(…)”The PSD is not in the first difficult moment after an important electoral loss. But today old and new fractures and stereotypes around the candidate and the party seem to create a real anti-Ponta and anti-PSD popular mood. Tensions, exclusions, and recriminations abound, aggravated by the lack of any form of analysis in the party of the deeper root-causes of the situation we find ourselves in. Autistic to the public outcry, Victor Ponta is holding on to his prime ministership and party leadership despite a growing dissatisfaction with his persona. Ponta is taking the party prisoner of his own political survival. They might both drown,” warns senator Mircea Geoana in “Social Europe Journal”.