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April 20, 2021

Is voting an obligation, an urge or a freedom?

Among many other things which democracy has brought in Romania 27 years ago, things that otherwise should be good (for not being bad) and that, all these years, should have practically taught us what means to be the citizen of a country in which FREEDOM is not only a concept from a handbook or an empty word in the mouth of a dictator, is also included the freedom of voting.

I remember that in Ceausescu’s period, elections were a caricature. Any of the today’s young people, if asking his or her parents or grandparents how voting or elections were like in that period, will receive the same identical answer: actually, elections didn’t exist.

It is well known that, in all the dictatorships of the world, an electoral campaign is almost inexistent and voting is a formal, but mandatory matter for every citizen having the right to vote.

Things were the same in Ceausescu’s Romania, too. Comrade Nicolae Ceausescu was announced as the winner of all the ballots, with a consistent and overwhelming percent of 99.9% (!), a unanimous vote granted with joy and patriotism by any happy and satisfied citizen of the advanced multilateral socialism.

Besides, Stalin was expressing in a very concise and painfully accurate manner the concept of “vote” which a dictator has: “It doesn’t matter who votes. What does matter is who counts the votes”.

After ’89, Romanian people have embraced the concept of “freedom” and they have implemented it as enthusiastically as they could, in particular by directly and actively participating to the political life through the voting.

Political diversity and freedom to directly express your choices and political opinions have made voting to be an undisputable barometer and one of the most redoubtable and coveted “social-political weapons” of the citizens against the politics, and which politics has never hesitated (on the contrary, I would say) to handle and to manipulate in variable ways and measures.

Some rumors have began to appear some time ago, out of the local politics’ backstage, that parties, namely PSD and UNPR in particular, have suggested and initiated, in 2014, the moment of the debut in this matter, a legislative project which was meant to establish the obligation of voting.

The argumentation of the politics in this case was, quoting: “…by introducing the mandatory voting, the chances for the elections to be defrauded will reduce, there will be no more reasons for electoral bribe and it will be difficult for anybody to buy votes.” The absence from voting should have been punished by establishing a fine of RON 1,000.

Also, to support this initiative and to argue this strange idea which politic shows in the matter of interpreting the fundamental laws of the universal democracy, giving connotations and tones completely isolated to these concepts (as it happens in Romania for 20 years ago, actually), it has been said that the obligation to vote would also attest the citizens duty to choose their representatives and would give more representativeness to the legislative body and more legitimacy to the Government.

Of course, among the powerful arguments which politicians are always using when they suggest something to be deemed as efficient and good for Romanian people, as it is exemplary and well established in other places of the world, where democracy seems to be home and better justified and supported not only by words and laws that are made exclusively by the politicians and only in their interest, they invoked the example of the European countries where voting is mandatory: Cyprus, Greece, Luxembourg and Belgium, as well as of two other European countries where voting is mandatory, too, but the absence is not punished: Italy and Portugal.

Unfortunately, the habit to compare ourselves to other countries and other traditions in the matter of politics, economics, social trends, customs and rules, has become an exchange currency and a permanent argument for the politicians, not only bringing us no benefit, but creating a huge and insurmountable breach between the Romanian reality of any kind and the political ability of adaptation to this reality and of concrete functioning in it.

This already chronic anomaly is also specific to the way in which Romanian people perceive and initiate the direct involvement in the politics by voting.

And this is because, over more than 25 years, each one of us has been voting, more or less, more confident or more disappointed, influenced or not by the public opinion and by the predictions consistently coming from the Media and from the political show.

The results have been more and more disappointing, as time has gone by, and the consequences of our choices expressed by the vote were and are fully seen in any issue of our lives, especially in the most terrifying and depressing one: regardless of how much we’ve hoped and wished to believe that our vote will change things and the political class in better, everything went from bad to worse.

Here’s the result, after 27 years since the first freely expressed vote in Romania: Most of the Romanian people having the right to vote, inside or outside the country, prefer the absenteeism from the ballot boxes.

Because, isn’t it, since the only thing you can do by voting is to choose the smallest evil among all the other evil options printed and imprinted on the ballot paper and in your day-to-day life, then, what’s the good to do this effort?

Besides, regardless of the parties’ strategies to manipulate or distract people’s attention from what is more than obvious and bad for the political class, regardless of how political left or right are arranging or rebranding themselves, Romanians already know that the story of Mary and her new hat (same Mary of who all of us are so bored, saturated and terrified) will repeat, doesn’t matter which option we will have in the ballot station.

Actually, everybody’s talking more or less loudly that votes are defrauded in Romania and, regardless of how you, the citizen, will vote, they will mind their own business and they’ll be interested only by their personal advantages again.

The scandal on the referendum that was manipulated and defrauded by Liviu Dragnea, which is still producing echoes and which should keep the attention of the Romanian public opinion awake and vigilant, is a very relevant example for the assertions above.

But, paradoxically, same Liviu Dragnea is now stating that people should be “urged” to fully participate to the voting process!, giving the example of how the mayor of London acted in the voting day: “if there is anybody curious about what happened at the elections for the mayor of London, they will see three things which the current mayor told on Facebook. He urged people in the voting day, he told them that they have one more hour and to vote; secondly, he had a software and when he was sending a message by the phone to an elector, he was automatically informed about where the voting station is; and thirdly, he told people that, if they need, the Labour Party militants can take them to the voting station by the car. But we are talking about an old democracy. Therefore, Romanian people should also vote in order to give legitimacy to the electoral process and to the mayors and local counselors”.

It seems like Mr. Dragnea has a high affinity and liking to the English political and democratic pattern, since the politician is not giving this example for the first time now; in the nearly past, when he was talking about the change and the renewal inside the Romanian political left, Liviu Dragnea has invoked the model of the Labour Party which, in his isolated and special point of view, could become the new model of PSD.

It is true that we are talking about an old democracy. This is why, most likely, in order to cut the distance in time consisting in hundreds of years of history and democracy separating Mr. Dragnea and PSD from these origins, it should be started an assiduous exercise of education and political and personal behavior of PSD, in the good sense of the democracy.

I would also remind to Mr. Dragnea that, before trying to dress, to behave, and to think that you are and speak like a real lord, you should look in the mirror first, as well as in your personal family tree, to make another important and painful exercise of awareness and truth and to realize that “Magna Charta Libertatum” (1215) and “Magnum Concillium” (1295), the first “British Parliament”, are telling everything about what and how is the current PSD able to fold and adapt to the British rules and democracy.

I am sure that the current mayor of London, the Labour Sadiq Khan, despite his Pakistani origins and controversial presence in the British politics, a political system which is well known for its conservatism and radical-customary trends, had no intention, when he urged people to vote, to force them to enter in the cars or to reward them with a plastic bag having the logo of his party and containing food, as a consolation for their vote, nor he struggled with all his power, before this moment, to quietly pass in the Senate any legislative project related to the obligation of voting, as it already happened in Romania.

Therefore, I only can wish to Mr. Dragnea to have the highest success in urging people to vote on June 5.

On the Labour – PSD pattern, of course.

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