The deadline for the filing of the lists of candidacies for the Romanian Parliament – the seventh Parliament since 1990 and the fifth to be elected through the party lists system – expired at the end of last week.
Speculations about each party’s lists were rife for months. Rumours circulated and plenty of debate was generated, everybody being curious as to whom will end up being on these lists, validated by the leadership of each party, after a year in which the annulment of the whole political class was demanded. A year in which each political party, from the biggest and oldest one down to the newest one, which appeared as a reaction to a no longer wanted political class, permanently stated that those it will propose as the Romanians’ representatives in Parliament will be new people, never involved in politics and who have no legal problems.
In my view, the party lists vote is not a beneficial and timely one for Romania. Not now and not in the other past elections. And I will explain why.
In a state like Romania, in which the political party – regardless of its name – has been and is synonymous with the state itself, any party list vote system serves only to bring about supplementary social dissolution and confusion. Ever since 1989, Romanian voters have never really known very well whom they were voting for and who would end up representing them. And here I am talking about the physical entity of each MP, not about the party. Because, during this period, the party was always the one appearing before citizens, with the candidates remaining in place once the elections were over. Those with whom the voter has no contact, no palpable possibility to communicate or interact with and whom he will end up seeing occasionally only in other electioneering periods or periods important for the party again, not for the citizen. I would like to ask how many of the politicians who have run for a seat in Parliament so far have clearly told each voter, apart from the name of party they hail from, that they, not the party, will be their representatives in Parliament. And, consequently, the persons directly responsible for all that citizens will feel as an effect in their own lives for four years or more. And how many of us have had the patience or interest to ever read several hundred names of nominated candidates? And if we did, have we ever known who those people really are and especially what their real intentions toward the people are?
That is why, in my opinion, this voting system is precisely one of the main things that significantly – and unfortunately in certain aspects even irreversibly – contributed to the self-immunisation of the political class on one hand, which led to an even greater aloofness from society, but also to its obvious lack of consistency on the other hand, generating the entire political system of today as well as the attainment of the present apotheosis of party oligarchy. And I believe any minimal analysis of the period in which this system was implemented in Romania speaks for itself.
Consequently, reverting to it serves only to put a clear final diagnosis: a chronic illness we have dealt with for 28 years, which has basically ended up ruining the Romanian state. This is a baneful situation for us, Romanians, because it leaves us no options. Categorically and obviously.
Because what can be worse for us, citizens, than the unfurling of a rug of party lists in which we are presented with a handful of “clean” names, strategically placed and skilfully used, among some other allegedly new names positioned just as skilfully and strategically, whose purpose is the diversion of change and renewal?
However, if you in fact look carefully and know what and who is involved, you will find the same persons who held Parliament seats before, the political parties’ eternal clients, who have been living well in the Romanian Parliament for 28 years and who, it seems, are no longer able to do anything else but be MPs.
These Parliamentary figures set in stone have become perfect built-in pieces in the political party mechanism, pieces which one cannot differentiate in any way and question or correctly analyse as one should.
If they were to be exposed and placed under the magnifying glass of collective lucidity, Romanians would no longer credit these figures with credibility, interest or the desire to ever elect them again.
In this case, the conclusion would be that the great transformation that the political class has pretended to voluntarily undergo ever since the local elections, as well as the parties and politicians’ profound desire to offer something else, reside in the resumption of the eternal broken record: “I accept a revision, provided nothing is changed. I accept there not being a revision, provided some minor changes are brought to the essential points.”
This pretty much sums up, in a first discussion, the preliminary analysis of these fabulous lists that each party so parsimoniously kept a mystery and a secret for so long, parties which simultaneously presented them on the last stretch of the filing period. In fact, a large and unique list! Regardless how you look across the whole political spectrum.
And what could have been more favourable to some party whose real existence and functionality is obviously ever more outdated, not to say disintegrated, if not the party list voting system? Think about how the current parties and the current political class would have looked in its great and cruel reality in this context if the uninominal voting system would still have been implemented.
Imagine the electioneering banners in which each of these completely undesirable political characters would have presided alongside a slogan the likes of “Dare to believe…” For example.
If in the past two legislatures the uninominal vote was the promoter of that famous slogan – “The man, not the party” – how would the parties have looked like had this model continued?
Of course, the uninominal vote does not guarantee – and it proved it did not guarantee in Romania – renewal or a correct political filter.
However, my opinion is that precisely because we are in this situation of complete incredulity on the part of Romanians, of oversaturation and of obvious contempt toward the entire political construct of the last 28 years, now would have been the best moment to prove in this manner the honesty that political parties and their leaders pretend – making such a case out of their desire to set out on a new and better path for Romanians not just for politicians. By sticking with uninominal voting. Nothing simpler.
Missing from this picture would have been, in fact, the element that would make the absolute difference if it were to exist: the awareness and maturity of citizens who cast ballots.
Because the political class is not a product independent of social will. But a consequence of it.
Good or bad, honest or lying, open to real change or not, it is always in line with what those who cast ballots accept being told and especially forced to elect.
I never supported election boycott, although personally I had moments when I adopted this attitude bereft of “civic responsibility.” However, all this aside, it should be understood that absence from the voting booth can never negatively affect politicians. Why? Because politicians will exist with or without voting. And this says it all.
In conclusion, what I find worthy of emphasis is the fact that we are at a crossroads, both politically and especially socially. And I believe in these moments it is important to turn our attention not toward the political show (which is not absent from any Romanian table nor from our pockets, and which has a far too high price we have all been paying for so long) but especially toward what we want happening to us now, today. To be able to open our mouths tomorrow and say that what is happening to Romania is good or bad. From all points of view.