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June 24, 2021

The great absentees of the Fiscal Revolution

In 2010, only two years or so from the moment the whole planet was rattled by the collapse of one of the biggest American giants – Lehman Brothers –, which in its collapse brought down the entire global financial and economic system, shattering to the core the myth of the all-mighty, inexpungable, and infallible capitalism, then-President Traian Basescu was announcing a series of unprecedented measures set to be taken by the Boc Government.

Those measures have remained like a stigma in the Romanian collective memory and their justification was reducing the backsliding and diminishing the impact that the huge global economic-financial shockwave had started to have on Romania too.

Consequently, public sector salaries were cut by 25 percent. Pensioners apparently avoided, just barely, a 15 percent cut of the already puny incomes they receive from the Romanian state. This apparent “protection” of pensions lasted only until the hiking of the VAT that same year. The VAT took a deadly jump, climbing 6 percentage points, from 19 to 25 percent for all Romanians.

Maybe it is worthy to recall that Traian Basescu used back then, just like Liviu Dragnea is using now, the same method of the political double-cross & double standard – first to come is the promise of awards and bonuses and then, almost simultaneously and implacably, comes the brick wall of reality. Taxes, fees, salary cuts, interest rate hikes, inflation, recession etc. Populism? Probably. Manipulative political tactic? Definitely.

A political trick that is as transparent as it is used by any one of the politicians and Governments that have succeeded in power in the last 28 years. An act of political manipulation that has become almost naïve through its predictability. But which, unfortunately, finds us unprepared each time and leaves us with the same perplexities, despair and with increasingly empty pockets.

Because history is cyclical, just like I kept saying and as it is amply proven.

Now, in 2017, 7 years from that moment and 10 years from one of the biggest and most important global economic crashes in the last one hundred years, in Romania another Government – this time the one that bears the name of Tudose – and another President – the one who bears the name of Dragnea and who happens to be solely the president of a party for now – have announced a new “fiscal revolution.”

A pell-mell whose sole purpose seems to be that of trimming not only the income of all Romanians or any possibility for real economic growth but especially any trace of patience and tolerance on the part of us all.

For months now, we are looking increasingly prostrated at the mindboggling fiscal schemes, combinations, and permutations that the Tudose Government keeps simulating. A simulation that leaves us increasingly dumbfounded and raises exponentially our state of anxiety and revolt the moment we realise that the simulation is over and the whole aberration maintained until recently at the level of words, graphs and theoretical presentations is a step closer to becoming reality.

We are like a group of spectators who paid a blank check to be the subject of an experimental show staged by weird humanoid-like beings that nevertheless are, based on their statements, intentions and looks, extremely hostile to human civilisation and to Romanian civilisation in particular.

Everyone is on alert. I am talking about everyone residing on Romania’s territory. From the smallest and most modest of Romanians, to the entities perched on the highest positions in various economic branches and areas of the country, we are all on the verge of the terror generated by the possibility of another devastating crisis that the current PSD-ALDE governance is about to trigger. An apotheosis of the continuous convulsions in which the Romanian state has been kept ever since this political coalition came to power.

And in this whole political-socio-economic-fiscal anarchy triggered and maintained by the infallible and undecipherable Left, there are several elements and faces that – even though they should be notable both through their presence but especially through the role and overtures that theoretically they should play and determine by the side of the current political power – are completely absent. Or, if they do appear from time to time, are like pale shadows waking up in the middle of the act and amid the rush of daily happenings, surprised, disoriented and as parallel as they could be with anything pertaining to the bitter reality of the Romanian state and its citizens.

The President of the country and the political Opposition.

The Opposition is an empty word in today’s Romania. Namely, a sort of paper boat that spins, turns, goes to the bottom and keeps accidentally popping up in the waters of the hurricane triggered by Liviu Dragnea and his Government. Screaming for help from time to time, lifting with great effort a sail with an anaemic and useless censure motion hung at the top of the mast, as a flag for storm and danger, or gathering signatures from the Romanians below deck for the constitutional change of the “sailing direction” while the country no longer sees any horizon or at least some light from a lighthouse at the end of the tunnel.

In what concerns the President…

President Klaus Iohannis has limited his office and prerogatives to issues pertaining strictly to the political rhetoric and acting that his office requires. Presidential statements and phrases. Which are immediately imported and absorbed by the press and which form a kind of bitter popular delight, like salt sprinkled on a wound, so long as Tudose Government’s “fiscal hopping and mega-hopping” does not remain solely a word elegantly spoken, politically correct, with strong hues of indignation before the cameras, from a rostrum or as part of a high-level gala or state event.

President Iohannis’s stance and intentions are good, in solidarity with the country and with the Romanian nation. It’s just that the unfortunate circumstance is that the President is extremely isolated and strictly decorative in this whole political reality-show.

Because, unlike Traian Basescu – who managed during his two terms in office to convert the semi-presidential regime into a presidential one, with full political prerogatives, powers, and effects –, Klaus Iohannis’s presidential term us limited to the “semi” part and less so to the “presidential” one.

Klaus Iohannis is a semi-political, semi-impactful and semi-blunt President who is semi-accepted or semi-considered by the current ruling power. And the influence and effects he has in these areas are more than obvious.

From his position as Romanian President, Traian Basescu had direct influence over his Governments and over the whole Parliament of Romania. Despite the political opposition of the PSD. And we can say that, from a constitutional standpoint or not, Traian Basescu was and remained during his two terms in office (also) the unchallenged and unmistakable leader of PDL.

Traian Basescu led Romania from all angles and in all manners possible and – especially – impossible.

Klaus Iohannis remains the President of a country led with a mailed fist and an iron will by Liviu Dragnea.

Indeed, this political lesson – extremely harsh and worth remembering in the future – talks openly and abruptly about one of the big and grave problems of post-1989 Romanian politics: the urgent and imminent need to constitutionally revise, reconsider and redefine Romania’s system of government. Should Romania remain a country with a semi-presidential system of government?

And if yes, why?

And, last but not least, what should be the role and prerogatives of the presidential institution – in actuality and in perfect harmony and agreement with the needs and trends of the current Romania – and in particular those of the political persona of the President within the current system of government?

Otherwise, there is the risk that the “deep state” – about which Calin Popescu Tariceanu keeps referring in a manner that is “a bit obsessed” – would not intersect, not even at some point in the future, with the real state and with the democracy we are all waiting for.

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