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December 1, 2020

Review. The Year and the President

Overlapping the vote on the special pensions for lawmakers and the shepherds’ protests, President Klaus Iohannis’ speech last week has somehow marked the year’s end and a review whose connotation, apart from the intended one – that of a review of the first year in office -, brought to light a number of extremely important and at the same time serious issues.

Klaus Iohannis wanted to centre the whole picture of his activity on the far too exploited and tragic “Colectiv phenomenon,” in a negative and entirely improper sense, just as other movements and discourses that aim for the Achilles heel of emotion and social frustrations that appeared on the same grounds.

Thus, the key of President Iohannis’ speech centred on the idea of an “educated Romania” as determining factor and guiding thread for the next 4 years of the presidential term but most of all as a target of the next political-social year opening up before us in January 2016.

Avoiding with an almost sacrosanct indifference vital notions and elements such as the economic-financial review, the situation Romanian political parties find themselves in at this moment, the social topics of salaries, pensions, health and education sectors that have been in a long cardiac arrest, the chronic problems of high-level corruption, the functional problems of the business lobby, Romania’s outlook and country rating in external partnerships and in current relations with a Europe that is in the midst of transformation, and, most of all, the obvious and flagrant problem of a Parliament right in the middle of anarchy and of the collapse of the party system, topics that all Romanians eagerly awaited after one year in office, it seems all Klaus Iohannis could do was to transform the institution of the presidency into a “corridor” of mediation which starts nowhere and ends nowhere.

It starts nowhere and ends nowhere because we have not even seen any palpable mediation attempt with results to match, because to mediate entails actions, abilities and overtures that I, personally, have not seen in the President this year, and because mediating in itself entails subjects that, similarly, I have not seen included in a serious and concrete way on the Romanian President’s agenda.

I would also emphasize, as important part of a review of presidential activity, the most striking element that stood out both in the President’s speech and the tone that the press has been using since October 30, and which stood out in all appearances or ideas related to Klaus Iohannis the President and the man. That of Klaus Iohannis’ transformation, through a bizarre and inexplicable phenomenon of media and psychosocial osmosis, into “the first voice of the street.”

Thus, overnight, Klaus Iohannis became the people’s man, the man of the street, the man that ties his whole current existence and his whole presidential (in)activity and most of all his so-called successes and check marks on the electoral-politicking “to do” list to this ghostly mandate received from the thousands of people that took to the streets in November.

In this way, the Ciolos Government has become President Iohannis’ patrimony and victory. An apparently technocrat and apolitical government in the service of a declared apolitical President who did not exhibit any intention to put an end to or refute the scenarios concerning his party, his Parliament and his Government. Scenarios that existed ever since he was sworn in and that have grown in intensity even more lately.

In the same line of presidential activity, the “toppling” of the Ponta Government and the whole wave of dissatisfaction toward “corruption that kills” have become overnight the image and intention of a President whose current and end goal is hard to define apart from metaphors and phrases such as “step by step,” “the thing well done,” “Romania of the thing well done” and “tough luck.”

Klaus Iohannis’ review of his first year in office is similar to Klaus Iohannis’ review of his first six months in office (I hope not similar to the one of the next 4 years) – null and void.
A nullity preciously and mechanically expressed every three months in front of a Parliament that is struggling in an increasingly gross indifference toward the President’s reflexive-idiomatic speeches and in front of a Romanian society increasingly desperate and brought on the verge of exasperation by this Parliament that defies with every gesture any minimal logic of civic and political common sense.

The image of 3,000 shepherds jumping fences and pushing their way into Parliament in order to make their desperate and furious voices heard inside the Parliament building in which lawmakers were welcoming Christmas carol singers from Maramures, sprawling in the generous armchairs of the warm plenum hall, cheering and applauding the adoption of the special pensions law, has become anthological, at least for me.

After one year in office and one year ahead of the current Parliament’s 4-year review, Romania is getting ready to enter the period of latency and decommission brought about by the winter holidays.

January will be a dead month from a Parliamentary and most likely Presidential point of view too. Nevertheless, the parties, those known and, most of all, those less known, are not sleeping.

They are watching and working. Since it is an elections year, right?

From now until February 1, when Parliament reconvenes and we officially enter the last stretch before the local elections campaign, the only thing left for us all to do is to make our reviews and to think, amidst the Christmas tree, the gifts, the traditionally family dinner and the New Year, about what will happen to us, Romanians, in a country that has been marking its end-of-year or end-of-decade reviews with political speeches and dramas that mire us even more into anarchy and the dissolution of the state.

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