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October 1, 2022

Politicians’ sympathy or electorate’s respect. What will President Iohannis choose?

Another “Black Tuesday” went by and Romanians once again felt bound and gagged, unable to revolt against the abuse of office perpetrated by those whom they had voted in order to represent and promote their interests and to ensure their well-being. One of the many “Black Tuesdays” in which people’s representatives did foolish things in Parliament, adopting laws that not only should not be adopted but should not even exist on their lips.

Staking on the idea that “he who allots the spoils gets the lion’s share,” before Parliament’s recess the MPs gifted themselves with a promising future in which their monthly income after retirement could reach even four times the sum received by a doctor or a professor after 30-40 years of work in the service of citizens. How did this situation come to be without anyone stopping them? Through the rubbing of elbows. An action that politicians have proven they are very skilled at when voting something for their own good, not for the good of the people that put them in the comfortable chairs they sit in today.

Thus, no fewer than 303 MPs voted “in favour” of the adoption of the special pensions draft law, despite the fact that the government had issued its red light on it by invoking the agreement with the IMF, but also despite the fact that President Iohannis expressed his reserve toward this initiative. Why did they do it? Because they can, as the joke goes, a joke that has a tragic rather than comical hue and that has already started to circulate on Romanian social media.

Doesn’t this have to do with some sort of conflict of interest? Isn’t this an abuse of power and office? Aren’t we dealing with an infringement of the common citizen’s freedom and equality? Shouldn’t the people have been the one to decide – or at least express its opinion – whether it agrees or not for a percentage of the public funds to go monthly to those who were MPs at one point? That would have been normal in a democratic, European state. However, the draft law signed by 255 Senators and Lower Chamber MPs went through Parliament’s commissions on the sly, without public consultations, without transparency, on the grounds that MPs have “an enhanced degree of responsibility in respecting and fulfilling citizens’ interests,” that they are forbidden “from holding any other office of public authority or commercial activity incompatible with the office of MP,” that specialists thus have to be encouraged “to run in Parliamentary elections,” but also because “we drew inspiration from the European Parliament law,” as PSD Lower Chamber MP Petre Daea, one of the initiators, stated.

After the coalition that formed in Parliament on Tuesday, when Senators and Lower Chamber MPs forgot about politics and Romanians’ well-being and voted purely subjectively and selfishly, the representatives will be able to earn up to EUR 1,000 depending on their number of terms in office. Apart from their pensions! In the context in which the average pension in Romania stands at approximately RON 850, being one of the smallest average pensions in Europe.

Only one man can still ruin the MPs’ plans, only one man can beef-up the population’s conviction that Romania is on the right track, only one man can act as a watchdog that watches over the respecting of principles that ensure the well-being of and respect toward the average man. Revolted with what happened at the vote on special pensions, a vote that took place shortly after the MPs voted against lifting Senator Dan Sova’s and Premier Victor Ponta’s immunities – both of them face serious legal accusations – Romanians are now watching President Iohannis, aware that only he can still reject the awarding of special pensions to MPs.

Against the backdrop of a drop in the popularity he enjoyed after last year’s elections, on account of the “silence” he is accused of, if this time he does not have a firm reaction and if he promulgates this draft law he will win the volatile sympathy of the 303 MPs but he will lose an important part of the electorate that believed his campaign slogan – “Back to square one.”

“I am waiting with great interest for this issue to be clarified by those elected to clarify it,” Iohannis stated in April. The representatives have just did that, and more so. What will the President choose now?


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