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January 23, 2022

Parliament, your name is Pardon

I was recently asked if I can give the example of a single useful thing done by Parliament in general and by this Parliament in particular. Other than tons of paperwork on the granting of pardons.

To be honest, I didn’t know how to answer. Even though this is part of my work topics and instruments, I for one am not aware of this Parliament or other Parliaments doing something other than drafting and tabling some bills whose exclusive purpose would be to strengthen the political power of all parties that have appeared in the last 28 years in Romania. Whether they were in power at one point or another, and consequently held the parliamentary majority, or whether they were in the Opposition. With any consequences for Romanians. And today’s Parliament represents the sum of all the previous ones.

During these days, society is inflamed by the pardon topic. Again. A topic that tends to become redundant and whose purpose and finality are, let’s be real, already visible and completely predictable as denouement.

Whether we want to accept it or not, regardless of how much pressure society believes it can put on the political sphere, reality shows us a bitter truth. In fact, the only one valid. The granting of pardons or whatever its name is will take place exactly in the form desired by those who represent politics and power in Romania. And this goes and will go for absolutely everything that is of interest in and useful for enhancing power.

I know. It’s a harsh conclusion and I’m aware that many of us do not agree with it.

This is the conclusion. But what would be the solution?

Because it’s clear, and also practically proven, that the current Parliament is not at all one typical of any democracy. Namely one with a real variation of political stripes and strong and independent ideologies. And with political parties that would RESPECT the role they received, via the popular vote, in the country’s legislative forum. In practical meaning – you’ve already realised – we are talking about the ruling power and… the Opposition.

I was now thinking that if one were to shout “Hello, Opposition!?” in the plenum of the Senate and the Lower Chamber, Calin Popescu Tariceanu and Liviu Dragnea would respond with gavel strikes, followed by Traian Basescu’s unmistakable laughter.

Since the first day of the current Parliament, I asked and I’ll continue to ask: What is the Opposition doing and who is the Opposition? Because it’s certainly not in Parliament.

For 6 months, we have had daily proof of the fact that the Opposition and the ruling power are one and the same notion. Nevertheless, we insist on believing that we have a democratic Parliament.

In the mutation that occurred last year, a convoluted and now ever more clever mechanism was created, through which the so-called Opposition was given – in appearance and at the level of responsibility – a role of ruling power. Let me explain.

If you noticed, and you surely did, in the case of bills such as the pardon bill, the scapegoats found for all that goes on badly or incorrectly with the large bills and legislative proposals or amendments are rarely found among PSD’s notable representatives and are increasingly found among members of the Opposition. For instance, certain representatives of PNL.

And during these days, the public opinion turned with even more power and adversity against Traian Basescu, the one who filed a series of amendments to the pardon bill.

In what concerns the Social Democrats, we’re talking about parliamentary avatars the likes of Serban Nicolae and Eugen Nicolicea. The former is now portrayed as a rebel who takes decisions on his own, out of line with the party. Moreover, as one who contributes to “ruining” the party’s image through his gestures and statements. Could things be really like this?

In what concerns Nicolicea, we are talking about a character not fully assimilated by PSD, him being the image of political flip-flopping, not to say a consecrated and patented typology of party switching. A political mercenary who has now rented out his services to PSD. A PSD that, obviously, will not be late in saying, just like in Serban Nicolae’s case, that it is not responsible.

Just like Liviu Dragnea is not responsible for the bills of this type either, passed by Parliament in the manner they are being passed.

The Government has been completely overshadowed in terms of assumption. Not to mention in terms of responsibilities!

In what concerns USR… This other political messiah of the Romanians – transformed into a Judas in a period of just several months – has made a mockery of itself for the 30 pieces of silver, the price of entering Parliament… USR is in a continuous silentio stampa from a parliamentary standpoint and all that we keep finding out about its activity lies under the aegis of tabloid news, spats for show and infighting.

Nothing new under the parliamentary sun…

So, I’d like to ask you: What is our Parliament and how will it be in the next three years?

Is it politically multi-striped or single-striped? And how long will it take until this completely single-stripe character will become official?

It’s known, democracy gives the Opposition instruments and levers, because that’s why it’s a democracy and not a dictatorship. Obviously, provided the Opposition exists and provided the desire is for it to exist.

In these conditions, who did we elect in the winter of last year? Are we sure we had diverse and diversified options or did we elect a great national union that includes all parliamentary parties? Because, look, we are having undoubtable and irrefutable proof through the way this institution is working now.

I was talking about solutions and I was talking about democracy. Which gives rights and instruments to us too, not only to politicians.

And, among them, an important one is the monitoring of those we elect to represent us in all state institutions.

I recall how in the former legislatures a great part of the media scrutiny was focused on parliamentarians and how, for many of them, in key moments such as the cutting of salaries and pensions, for example, there was a real problem in the ‘Parliament vs. voters’ case, the latter holding their representatives to account much more vehemently.

What has changed now?

In theory, our rights to ask parliamentarians to justify their actions have not disappeared.

Practically however, we allow ourselves to be carried away by the overall picture. The one in which Liviu Dragnea’s image has been projected over all parliamentarians and all parties. And we are hoodwinked and redirected to areas that have no relevance and no exit.

There is increasing talk about the coup d’états that Parliament delivers in countries in which democratic stability is shaky. Because it’s more than obvious that political paradigm changes are occurring throughout the globe. And what history consecrated as political tradition now undergoes changes just as radical as their object is.

Parliament holds significant power in any state of the world, and this cannot be different in Romania. That is why we should ask ourselves extremely seriously what form of government and political regime does Romania have and where are the levers of power truly concentrated. In what state institutions.

Parliament is not an entity lacking real content or power. It’s an archicerebellum that mediates between civil society and the rest of the state’s governing institutions. It’s a barometer of the country’s political realities. And in case Parliament undergoes mutations or malformations and if, instead of fulfilling its real and healthy function it received by default, it ends up being the main enemy of the state body, it’s just a matter of time until it can become the very element of implosion for the said state.

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