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May 17, 2021

Klaus Iohannis and the curse of the president-player

In politics, one of the gravest mistakes is comparing one politician with another. Or, even graver, comparing the holder of an important public office with his predecessor or predecessors.

In recent days, most of the press has been up in arms, propagating alongside tabloid-like headlines a series of information interpreted on the basis of a model with which, unfortunately, we have grown accustomed and which has nothing to do with the proper relaying of information. An example would be that, through this informational “spin,” the perfect stage has been set for President Klaus Iohannis to look like he is breaking the country’s Fundamental Law, the Constitution, the suggestion made being that he is allegedly electioneering alongside a certain political entity I will talk about next.

Among other such actions seen in recent days, the term “president-player” [denoting an active president – translator’s note] was reiterated. A formula patented and represented exclusively by Traian Basescu. Personally, I consider these to be very serious journalistic communication errors. Not to mention that they are not, under any circumstances, part of any category of political analysis or political consultancy, and can be called only dilettantism. Because making such comparisons and using such reasoning, especially in moments such as the present one, represents an acute lack of professionalism.

One cannot compare two political personalities.

They have no way of transferring their labels and characteristics to each other. Regardless how marketable they are. Marketability that produces great confusion where it matters and always mattered most, in the citizens’ mind.

We cannot and we should not transfer the character Traian Basescu into the character Klaus Iohannis.

We cannot and we are not allowed to create a composite sketch in which to fit various political characters and personalities or political moments. No matter how much we think things look alike.

And if no other common sense and political rationality argument becomes sufficient, at least think that, in deference to imagination (we are talking about the imagination of professionals in this domain, not of citizens), I believe other terms, particular and specific to any moment or character, could be created.

For two years now, a veritable myth of silence and dissimilarity with his predecessor has formed around Klaus Iohannis. Being forgotten that, before the talkative, hyperactive and inconvenient President Basescu, Cotroceni was not the source of a river of press releases, speeches or, simpler than that, games.

Consequently, in the first half of his term, Klaus Iohannis was accused of being silent. With the unfortunate term of muteness being ascribed to him through political comparisons and preconceptions.

Suddenly, President Iohannis has a longer dialogue with the press and we all realise that the only reasoning we are capable of, in the absence of a deeper analysis of the moment and the man, is that Klaus Iohannis is suddenly nothing but the lookalike of the one dubbed the president-player.

An error in political reasoning. Or simply a diversion on the part of the observers. What’s certain is that there can be no greater mistake when analysing the profile of President Iohannis.

Talking all the time does NOT represent proof of involvement or expertise. Just as being silent or talking less for a period of time, because the situation calls for it, does NOT prove inability or lack of involvement.

Something anyone in the political domain and related domains should know.

Moreover, being an active president is never, but never, synonymous with being exceptionally good or brilliant (for the state and the nation).

Yes. Traian Basescu was and will remain an active president. Not because of his talkativeness. But because of the way he knew and was able to surpass, all the way to the limit of constitutionality, his involvement and scope on the entire political chessboard (an ability of his that we can still notice today).

In the case of Klaus Iohannis, the status of active president is impossible to ascribe to him not only because of the mistake any tendency to run comparisons represents but especially because his presidential profile entails an entirely different approach. If you want, a more subtle and balanced approach in relation to his own status, to his involvement in current political life.

It is as natural as it can be for the country’s president, whether active, mediator, passive, more or less talkative by nature or any other conferred or self-conferred attribute, to intensify his presence or statements on the verge of the parliamentary elections. And not just any parliamentary elections. But some which are coming against the backdrop in which the political crisis, caused by the disintegration of political parties irrespective of their position on the spectrum, is chronic.  Moreover, as even more proof of the lack of power and of partisan identity, we also have a Government declared apolitical.

And, since we keep living off and feeding on precedents that have become our sole landmarks, I don’t see how and why a President cannot express his own opinions, without them being understood or translated, more or less intentionally, as interference, influence or political partisanship. Namely roughly what being a president-player has meant so far. A term we have now transformed into a title of glory. We even want it. Forgetting that no sooner than two years ago we used to stigmatise it and consider it completely negative and unbecoming of such a high public office.

On the other hand, it is just as natural for Klaus Iohannis’s involvement to grow at a point when the status of the judiciary, the act of justice itself, is being disputed on the political table and transformed into a pet hobby in the campaign, an electoral platform and even a party in itself. The remnants of the parties are grouping, based on criteria that have nothing in common with the Romanians’ interest but with their own fate, in an absolutely hallucinatory manner for any state with democratic pretences, into pro-judiciary and anti-judiciary parties.

And precisely because there is such chaos in politics, series of “errors” are being made in all news bulletins that are not only causing confusion but are also contradicting any idea or pretension of being a democratic state in which the Constitution is the foundation.

Had I not heard President Iohannis’s statements myself, based on what one can read in the press as being his statements I would have understood nothing but that he is flagrantly breaking the Constitution. Going so far as to summon the parties to Cotroceni and to start electioneering for a certain party – PNL.

In this case, to associate Klaus Iohannis with PNL, just as associating Dacian Ciolos with the same PNL, is of extraordinary seriousness. The desperate desire of this party (we no longer know whether it’s called PNL, PDL or whether it exists in any way other than on Ms. Gorghiu’s lapel) to associate itself with the image of personalities who hold such high public offices is understandable. In the absence of other important party members that would truly matter or of its own capacity to organise and exist in a way other than through arranged marriages or tagging along with an already created strong name and strong public image. Particularly during this period in which PNL has to enter Parliament or will completely disappear.

However, all we can say as a conclusion we can draw from what has happened these days and what really matters is the fact that President Klaus Iohannis, as well as PNL, have made a forceful comeback under the public spotlight after PSD raked in political ratings during the whole summer.

We are preparing for parliamentary elections. Everything we see now, we will have to filter through our mind, not through completely unsuitable or induced political passions which, as seen, are leading us each time to wrong or partially wrong choices. The inevitable result was a huge disappointment caused by the excessive focus on the show and not on what really mattered and matters, what normally should have interested and should interest us.

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