One of the practices and basic rules of manipulation says that in order to distract attention from something inconvenient you have to create something else, of superior attractiveness, which would meet the conditions required to make the public focus exclusively on it. The perfect diversion.
Are you introducing new and more burdensome taxes? The signs of a possible sex scandal that might involve an important public person could appear out of the blue.
You want to make people no longer pay attention to their money? You create another type of scandal.
I am sure you got it from the first paragraph.
I cannot help comparing the above with what Liviu Dragnea is trying to do these days with the announcement that has generated the profound and natural perplexity of any rational person more or less immersed in politics in Romania.
Mr. Dragnea says that, in case the electoral law is modified in the sense of replacing the one-round election system for mayors with a two-round election system, PSD will not take part in the local elections, thus boycotting them.
But it all starts and suddenly stops here, with a powerful creak of neural brake.
We are aware of the election boycott, as the citizens’ instrument of censuring politicians.
However, I for one am not aware of an election boycott on the part of politicians at the time of elections. As if they, the politicians, should censure citizens and not the other way around. Based on this logic, it is as if politicians vote for citizens, not the other way around.
Thick darkness falls over one’s mind when one uses such a reasoning imposed by a statement that is so shocking for normal reasoning.
Similarly, I for one do not know where the election boycott term appeared from in Mr. Dragnea’s mind, since, as far as I know, the boycott is a form of political fighting too, meaning the organized cessation of relations with someone as a sign of reprisals.
Do you see any link between what Mr. Dragnea, the president of currently the largest party in Romania, understands by boycott and what we, the rest of us, understand?
Toward whom does the president of PSD want to direct his reprisals? Toward us? Voting-age Romanian citizens? And why should we be the ones to bear them, again, when the whole Social-Democrat anger and fuss is the result of political disagreements with PNL? In other words, based on Social-Democrat calculations, the relations with the Liberals are broken through us and at our expense, even though it would be not only logical (again, I know!) but especially commonsensical for them to break them between themselves. Without the need to transform the most important democratic exercise, which has vital consequences for us all, into a topic of masquerade, of gutter sensationalism and phoney battlefield. Does that sound similar to what I was saying at the start of this text?
Mr. Dragnea has cast a stone. Thus keeping our minds and attention busy looking for it. However, what is sad and serious at the same time is that this stone, beyond any attempt to place it into the risible, can be of an importance that will prove to be, in time, a moment of veritable changing of direction for Romanian politics. Put more clearly, the stone is about to fall straight on our heads, the citizens’ heads.
We all know that a political party’s only purpose is winning and holding on to power, which in a democracy comes about through voting. What occult interest or calculations would a political party have in order not to take part in the supreme act of validation and confirmation? The more so since this party, coincidentally or not, is the largest in our state and, if we are to give credence to its own statements, allegedly has no worries in what concerns winning the elections. With or without alliances and, most importantly, in one, two or several rounds.
Could PSD’s desire to defend and conserve Romania’s democracy and stability be so big that it is willing to put an end to its existence to do it? Because, in itself, the idea of not taking part in some of the most important elections represents nothing but the statement that the Social-Democrat pole has ceased to exist (at least officially and at least through popular validation).
Personally, I do not believe in the self-sacrifice of Romania’s only party. The one that, irrespective of party logos and titles that it kept juggling all these years, remained the same it has been since 1990, and which is synonymous, for most Romanians, with exactly the opposite of what it wants to portray more recently, since the start of Liviu Dragnea’s presidency: democracy, change, transparency, dismantling of the oligarchy, openness etc.
So, if we all agree that the so-called Social-Democrat boycott of local elections is one of the biggest aberrations (under all possible terms) that politics can give birth to, the question naturally rises: Why did Liviu Dragnea make this announcement?
Ruling out a decision taken under the spur of the moment, something that does not seem to characterize him and that at any rate is inexcusable at such a level. Ruling out the idea of purposeless blackmail. Ruling out any PR strategy that would turn out to be of far too little use, if not outright bankrupt.
And especially ruling out a subsequent announcement on reconsidering the decision. A case that would fall not within the framework of typically political flip-flopping but within the framework of circus acts that automatically (re)position you where I believe no party with PSD’s pretences would like to be again and would no longer benefit from being. Repositioning because it was there before, up until recently, with Victor Ponta as the main decision-maker and emblem.
Therefore, what does this breaking of relations with local elections (based on the definition of boycott), and consequently with us, mean for the largest party in Romania and how does it affect us. Because my strange conviction is that such a gesture would not be perceived by us as relief but rather as an even greater future burden.
In my opinion, two plausible and extremely substantial options remain in what concerns the political future in Romania but not only that.
First of all, I would point out a new Liviu Dragnea diversion. Namely, that PSD no longer forms alliances in the local elections. But can and will form alliances at local level, based on the whim and interest of party branches that, apparently, have allegedly become entities with exceptional rights in this new Social-Democrat leadership of an Enlightenment type. Consequently, its previous allies, UNPR and ALDE, will run in the local elections on their own, reserving the right to form local alliances on a case-by-case basis and mainly with PSD. What is the news here? PSD is not forming alliances. UNPR is not forming alliances. They run in the elections on their own! What is being left out and what is not being emphasised sufficiently from an informational standpoint in order for people to understand perfectly? The local alliances. Namely how the members of PSD, UNPR and ALDE can (and will) share joint lists in a county or locality, under the aegis of a local alliance. In this way, I would like to ask you to pay attention, because the fine print of the great national announcement according to which PSD does not take part in local election could spell out that each local party branch reserves the right to take part in local elections, with or without alliances, if doing so serves its interest.
Meanwhile, although we are not taking part in the elections, we declare open the season for political discounts and the political season in which the same person or party makes completely contradictory statements from one day to the next. A trend joined in force more recently by the apolitical Premier, by the apolitical President and by Traian Basescu’s party.
I was saying I do not believe Mr. Dragnea and his people to be suicidal for the sake of noble causes. However, I trust their capacity to implement and successfully complete a political euthanasia (in appearance). Which, in line with the mainly European and only then national wave of political renewal, has to disappear. You cannot really renew a political class by keeping the very symbol of the era you want to see gone.
Thus, the possible boycotting of local elections could gain meaning and would give the official start to the destructuring of this political mastodon that holds within itself all that Romanian politics has meant for well over two decades.
It remains to be seen how things will evolve. And with the rumour mill and rumour market remaining open, we only have to wait and see what February 1 brings, a date that coincides with the opening of Parliament’s first ordinary session. Maybe a boycott in Parliament too?