Dacian Ciolos: Open National Political Games

We are experiencing troubled times in Romania and the world. Historic times.

Because it’s not a small thing for a nation, not to mention for an individual, to experience a radical change in global paradigm.

And, as troubled as these times are, as least things seem to be moving on a political plane in our country. At a first glance, one can say that, after the coming to power of a political majority that has already become a mastodon and a continuous soap opera about the judiciary and the “establishment,” our future looks and sounds frighteningly unilateral and closed. With the already worn-out political combinations and conflicts – which will not bring anything new – being able to resume, at most.

Like it or not, our politics is archaic, functioning on the model of a pashalik or colony and not managing to integrate either in the modern political system or in the great Western political family to which we adhered and which we keep claiming.

Europe and the world are going through a radical change. Romania should fall in line with these changes, coming out of isolation and the political model practiced so far. After all, whether a truism or not, we are not alone in the world. And we should once and for all cure ourselves of this political and geopolitical autism we are living in, precisely because we are not isolated from the rest of the world and we cannot function outside of it.

A first attempt to come out of the prehistory of politics was made with the coming of President Klaus Iohannis. It continued, no matter how inadequate and forced it seemed back then, with a technocratic Government taking office. Led by a person not associated with regular politics – Dacian Ciolos. Thus, in line with this “model,” in the near future, the President’s already faded-out figure will become increasingly dim, the man who embodies everything that Klaus Iohannis intended to be and represent gaining preponderance and a stronger outline. Dacian Ciolos represents the new model of Romanian political-social leader in line with what Europe is becoming.

These days, he officialised his non-governmental organisation with political objectives. An apparent discordance in the usual logic of an NGO. However, similar to that of the technocratic Government. One that, however, is understood against the backdrop of the things said above, to the extent in which all political combinations have been tried at every level.

And since everyone interpreted in a politically correct manner this overture, otherwise extremely predictable since months ago, the natural question that immediately sprung up was the one concerning the chances that this new political party – atypical against the local political backdrop but not unique as far as initiatives go – may have and what political pool it may target.

It is said about Dacian Ciolos that he is not a politician. True. Dacian Ciolos is not a typical Romanian politician with which the public and political class may have gotten used to already. That is why Dacian Ciolos is a challenge for Romanians. This is also the reason why, in his PR strategy – one that is not bad at all, on the contrary – he did not want to become the member of any existing political party. Regardless of how many offers and extraordinary premises have existed so far.

Dacian Ciolos is that figure completely in line with the image of the modern European politician. Hence the way he understands to be active in our politics and to launch his future political party on an already crowded market.

Some (political greenhorns) would say that Mr Ciolos’s political future died before it was born, with his image damaged as a result of his stint as Premier. A position in which he seemed hesitant and confused most of the time. These traits standing out even more when, while he was being politically courted, he preferred an ambiguous situation instead of a committal. Apparently. Only apparently.

During the parliamentary elections campaign, PNL and USR successfully used Dacian Ciolos’s image, thus managing to enter Parliament.

For Dacian Ciolos, it was an inspired tactical move which tested out his political and leadership profile, feeling the Romanians’ reaction toward him and, obviously, tallying subsequent votes. In these conditions, we can say Dacian Ciolos used PNL and USR. Certainly not the other way around. And this “use” is continuing.

On the other hand, in this way, PNL was able to prolong and re-officialise an already ailing existence. And, under the shadow of Dacian Ciolos’s image, USR was able to germinate, waiting for its true role. These are also the reasons why, immediately after the parliamentary elections, the “Dacian Ciolos, PNL and/or USR Premier” topic was not just abandoned and deliberately forgotten but, on the contrary, an anti-Ciolos current was created in these parties, surprising and vexing the political opinion.

A move that once again dissociated Ciolos from the typical, worn-out and crippled political class, but that made him even more desirable and pleasant for a significant part of the public opinion. A positive social and political capital to which a full contribution was made by PSD’s attacks as well as by the discrete but coherent and well-aimed public presence of Dacian Ciolos, a man who, precisely through his neutrality, managed to become the ideal politician in an ocean of imperfect politicians who have ended their life cycles.

And the temperance and extreme caution that the former Prime Minister proved throughout this stormy period on the domestic plane, by refraining from issuing positive or negative opinions with well-defined directions, are proof of the “Dacian Ciolos political team’s” good management.

This against the backdrop of the Romanians’ disorientation and huge disappointment with the result of the parliamentary elections and of the depletion of the PR and hope capital of a party which was thought to be messianic – the USR – but which soon revealed it lacks leadership, projects and real capabilities.

Dacian Ciolos is left to continue training behind the scene of national disappointment. The one whose image is not at all so damaged as we might think, everything falling under the chapter of well-calculated and controlled backslides of an image, of a leader and of a brand that started off from the idea of saviour. One who appeared in an extremely delicate context in which such a role was needed, only to silently continue and round off now when, more than ever, Romania needs both a leader and a real providential party.

And in the current situation, domestically, but especially externally, the political objectives announced by the former Prime Minister are growing in scope against the backdrop of a discourse so different from the one we have already gotten used to. In which the nuances and levels between the social and the political are harmonised, gain credibility and are not in conflict as before and in which there is talk of Romania’s future in the European space.

To talk about the chances that Dacian Ciolos’s political project has, we should first discuss its external timeliness and, particularly, its promotion abroad.

What can be said about Dacian Ciolos’s political persona and personality, seen from the European angle and reflected in Romania’s domestic politics?

In my opinion, the answer would be that the necessity of the Germanic impulse (as I was saying, Klaus Iohannis was just a preview) has disappeared and the French breath of fresh air has been reached. Against the backdrop in which, in the new Europe, France’s role and status will be able to support us in the dilemma-ridden and delicate Russia-NATO triangle via the U.S. and Western Europe. A France which, in its turn, will decide a major shift in the European line, starting on April 23, when presidential elections will take place there. And before anyone gets up in arms, misunderstanding what I want to say, I would like to point out – or better put, to reiterate – just this: domestic politics and its people are null as long as they have no weight in foreign affairs. Here is where people like Dacian Ciolos come in. People who, going beyond human subjectivity and reaching the objectivity that reality requires, are not only necessary but imperatively necessary.

Returning to the domestic plane: the one in which Dacian Ciolos’s outspoken opponent – Liviu Dragnea – was calling for “a debate that would bring the political class together around the national interest,” mentioning “the Government, the political parties, the Romanian MEPs and all the others who can support, one way or another, Romania’s interest at European level” and the Great Union’s centennial, an even that, coincidentally or not, represents the leitmotif of the platform that Dacian Ciolos launched last November. All of this underscores the advisability of the appearance, on the political stage, of what Dacian Ciolos has just announced.

As he got us accustomed to, Dacian Ciolos’s moves are well-calculated and well-dosed. And even if we were to tend to believe that they are not of magnitude or are lost in the chaotic and exciting Romanian political life, I for one am sure that all things related to this aspect will be clarified as well as possible this spring.


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