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December 3, 2022

The naiveté of Mr Ciolos

“I must admit that last year, when I said I won’t run, because I had promised at the start of my stint as independent Premier not to do so, I didn’t think that after democratic elections I’d once again live to see the day when winners behave like the bailiff of an estate.

“They will crack their whip left and right, and not even the economy, not even Justice, not even the press – which inconveniences their belief that to govern means to rule and not to serve – will get away.

“I didn’t think that in 2017 I would hear that in some editorial offices that still have a spine the demand made is not to write negatively about two politicians, leaders of a ruling party.

“I must admit, I was naïve to think that. And yet, I dare believe that Romanians will not allow their dignity torn to shreds for a promised salary rise that, as we can see with each passing day, is not even real, because of the hikes in taxes, cost of loans, utility prices etc.

“Yes, I dare believe.”

Dacian Ciolos regrets. He is doing so on Facebook and is doing so with hindsight. And the reason for these belated regrets is that he kept a promise he once made – not to run in the elections.

In general, promises must be kept. Especially those made before an entire country by a man engaged in politics, albeit with the most nuanced independent or apolitical hue.

Romanian politicians have become notorious for their lack of coherence, honesty and honour when it comes to promises made to the country and to Romanians.

But maybe Dacian Ciolos at some point made this promise in an outburst of maximum sincerity and good intentions toward Romanians and Romania, a promise that theoretically he has kept so far.

However, the promise not to run for office in a certain moment or in general is not the same with the promise not to run in a particular manner or in other favourable moments.

Just as it happened when the same Dacian Ciolos, who had made this promise not to run in the parliamentary elections of 2016, nevertheless accepted to associate his image and public identity with that of PNL in those elections. Back then, Dacian Ciolos consciously – not naively at all – took on the role of avatar, support and vote rake for the Liberal pole that was experiencing the biggest possible post-1989 drift.

In fact, Dacian Ciolos never specified, as far as I recall at this moment, that he will not make a bid for a certain political office in the state. For instance, that of President of Romania.

And in life, as is well-known, there are promises that can and must be broken when the situation calls for it. Not to mention that in politics it is sufficient to look at what is happening at this moment with the electoral promises made by PSD to be able to understand, no matter how naïve or gullible you may be, that almost any promise for well-being made by a politician is the equivalent of that gift that the ancient Greeks were making, as Virgil used to say in Aeneid.

And things do change after one year in one of the highest political offices in the state – that of Prime Minister – and after another year in which you can look on those who succeeded you and you can clearly and accurately see the places and moments in which maybe the same errors are being made, but by others this time around.

Naiveté is a trait of politics.

And since I, for one, am yet to figure out by now whether Dacian Ciolos was an entity with political character via the very definition of the office of Prime Minister of any Government of the world, or whether he was just a regular man – one with an excellent professional resume but without any political options or stripes, who ended up at the helm of the country’s Government through a turn of events, accidentally, by chance –, the issue of naiveté cannot be identified on one side or the other of the line that separates and at the same time unites the two possible identities of Dacian Ciolos.

But, apart from the so-called naiveté that the ex-Prime Minister retroactively invokes (the naiveté of still believing, in 2017, that democracy can be brought to its knees, and the Romanians’ hopes, in fact eternal, torn to shreds), there are also things that have to do, to a smaller extent, with the naiveté of the ex-Premier and more to do with an extremely cold and objective calculus on the part of the politician when he posts uplifting and essentially true words on his personal Facebook page.

Seen from the standpoint of the current domestic political context, these words can gain a hue that is just as populistic and demagogical as the other words uttered by the other ones who are now in power. And his veiled and sparse public appearances – nevertheless particularly well-aimed and appropriate, coming in key points and at key moments, supplemented by long periods of silence and absence in moments that are less favourable for any public person that does not want to be associated with the political chaos and instability that have existed for some time now in Romania – tell a different story about Dacian Ciolos’s so-called political naiveté.

This whole lights and shadows show suggests the existence of an extremely well-tuned strategic mechanism. A mechanism whose final goal is to use and slowly and precisely polish the whole collective mental process, in the end setting the stage and place for the appearance of a messianic leader, highly likely the leader of another political party born overnight from the ashes of popular discontent, who would bring about that redeeming solution precisely at the peak moment of minimum tolerance for the ruling power and of maximum potential for victory on the part of those who could succeed those holding ruling power.

A strategic cleavage being born on the border of any electioneering period that is at a new start.

However, as known, at least so far, Dacian Ciolos was and has remained, nevertheless, apolitical. And this seems to have automatically removed him from the stage on which all those who want and actually manage to be actors in the great Romanian political game stand.

Moreover, the association of his image with the image of PNL and even with that of USR during the previous parliamentary elections, with that addition of his own making – the ‘Romania 100’ Platform – of unknown origin, put Dacian Ciolos in a sort of political-apolitical-technocratic mix with strong NGO hues. An issue that only served to generate confusion and perplexity among Romanians in what concerns the ex-Premier’s options, direction and, in the end, political intentions.

Certain voices from Romanian public opinion and Romanian press have started to sketch an obvious comparison between the Macron model – a young European political hope that brought to France new energy and a new vision on a possibly new and modern variant of the Western democracies’ model – and Dacian Ciolos as potential candidate in the presidential elections of 2019.

It’s just that Emanuel Macron, unlike Dacian Ciolos, substantiated and built from the ground up, En Marche!, on an independent centrist political axis. Even though the entire construct lasted only one year. But En Marche!, and, in particular, Emanuel Macron did not leave the slightest room to any interpretation, overlap or adjudication on the part of another pre-existing left- or right-wing political party.

Concluding in view of the things said about Macron, Dacian Ciolos still has, theoretically, around a year to be able to equal the French President or make possible a potential comparison with him.

A short time. An extremely short time. Nevertheless – if we were to take USR as the model, in the Romania of make believe that Ms Alina Gorghiu mentioned as the alleged source of Dacian Ciolos’s political naiveté –, time that would double his chance not only of being able to enter the presidential race on an eligible position in 2019, but even of giving birth to a new political line. One most likely positioned as far to the right of the political spectrum as possible, stemming from a conservative-centrist seam that would relaunch this quasi-inexistent side of the spectrum and, with it, reanimate the entire Romanian Opposition.

However, until then, Dacian Ciolos would have to answer several questions before Romanians, such as: with whom, why, with what and especially for whom?


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