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December 7, 2022

Dacian Ciolos and the Sphinx of Romanian democracy

What was long expected finally happened on Sunday.

Dacian Ciolos announced his intention to form a political party and to officially enter politics.

It is more than obvious that Dacian Ciolos remains – during these moments of great confusion and anarchy that Romania as a whole is going through – the only (a)political figure that suggests a potentially positive road, albeit extremely flimsy, convoluted and uncertain, toward that promised land that all Romanians have been waiting for decades.

In this whole political turmoil and carousel of ideas, political doctrines, people, protests, political jabs, legislative aberrations, a more or less ephemeral Opposition, a more or less absent President, an external world more or less concerned about what is now happening in this country and in this other world in which conflict is escalating almost with each passing minute, Dacian Ciolos seems to be that lighthouse in the night, that secret and special key that can open the door to a different political universe and a different Romania.

Somehow, in an alignment that is mysterious yet full of meaning and symbols difficult to divine by the majority that is uninformed and unfamiliarised with the process of the world’s political history, and especially with the one that always concerned Romania, Dacian Ciolos was from the start that key piece of the puzzle thrown on the table of Romanian political actuality. A modest piece mixed-in with all the other pieces, having an apparently insignificant or almost not at all important value for the final picture. Extracted – also apparently and randomly – from a pile, at a crucial moment, inserted and then once again taken out and set aside for that moment when the value of the picture – the one expressed in real and precise terms – would appear in its true light and would reveal the entire final scene.

In a picture and perspective looked upon entirely differently than the way the majority has grown accustomed to look upon, Dacian Ciolos represents that infinitesimal logical sequence in the line of the erroneous political equation of the last two years.

Thus, Dacian Ciolos naturally follows Klaus Iohannis in the sequentially deducible line which, unified and brought to the same common denominator, indicates in abundance the direction that Romania not only must pursue but that it is obligated to pursue unless it wants to remain in the area of new European democracies and on this side of that hallucinating “red curtain” that seems to be falling ever faster between the West and the East.

Hence, Klaus Iohannis is to Dacian Ciolos what John the Baptist was to Jesus Christ.

However, at this moment, Dacian Ciolos is still perceived with a lot of reserve and suspicion by a great part of Romanians.

There is sense and logic to these fears. When you have experienced, for well over 20 years, a veritable socio-political rollercoaster, anyone who comes along and promises you that this time around the ride will not cost more than initially promised, nor would it subject you to a risk that could be fatal, becomes suspicious and prone to being suspected.

Moreover, if that person, the moment they appear and try to convince you of the good they are trying to bring you, is surrounded by characters and cadres that automatically trigger your darkest fears and the biggest traumas you ever experienced in relation to the political class and its actions toward you, then no matter how well-intentioned, well-positioned and well-backed that person is, the risk of being confused or associated with and suspected of the worst and most diabolical intentions possible is directly proportional and well justified.

Dacian Ciolos did not engage in politics until now. Not officially and not as a name and image clearly associated with a political party.

However, in 2007, Dacian Ciolos succeeded Decebal Traian Remes at the helm of the Agriculture Ministry, in the Cabinet headed by none other than the current leader of ALDE, PSD’s ruling coalition partner Calin Popescu Tariceanu.

From what we all know, at least so far, a minister is a political entity.

And a political entity always has political stripes and a political line from which it descends and which he/she follows and serves.

However, Dacian Ciolos, personally, never engaged in politics in Romania.

The same Dacian Ciolos who, almost two years ago, was forming a new Government. A self-styled technocratic and apolitical one. Dacian Ciolos being its Prime Minister.

Nevertheless, Dacian Ciolos continued to call himself apolitical and to stay aloof from politics in Romania.

And to make even clearer what I am trying to emphasise with these ideas, I will say this: one of the biggest problems that most Romanians who engage in politics face is that of understanding fully, correctly, coherently, logically and in an applied manner what it actually means to engage in politics in a state.

Engaging in politics is not mandatorily synonymous with becoming actively and directly involved in the political act or in some role allocated on a country’s political stage.

You can engage in politics (and you do, even if you do not know it or you are not aware of it) as a simple citizen. By commenting on Facebook or on any other virtual platform, by taking to the streets, by discussing at home with your spouse the ongoing political events or simply by sympathising and backing a political party or figure in an effective way, through activities that entail actions of a political nature (see voting).

This is a gregarious and current level of political activity, however without much too great immediate effects that would affect in some way the state’s political mechanism or without automatically putting you under the limelight of the political stage and without making you responsible for the way in which the levers behind this stage are being manipulated.

After all, we are all doing this. However, not all of us are directly, mandatorily and unmitigatedly influencing the political act, the state’s political decisions and implicitly their consequences.

But anyone who ends up joining a party by giving one’s adhesion to it, holding a party-level or state-level political office, and officially representing the interests of a state in its inter-institutional relations and its relations with the political, institutional or state entities of other countries, is called a political man or a politician and is automatically and mandatorily part of a country’s political mechanism.

Just as the country’s President cannot be separated from the notion of politics – precisely because the presidential entity, as an institution of the state and as person of the President, represents and reflects the state in its political, social, economic entirety – so too a Prime Minister, Minister, Secretary of State or any other state dignitary or civil servant cannot be separated from this notion and from the direct and indirect implications it has at a state and inter-state level.

Had Dacian Ciolos seen fit to clarify the whole dilemma generated in the minds of Romanians regarding his person and his position in the Romanian political landscape, things would have been much simpler and long clarified, so that Dacian Ciolos would now have been able to fully express – without any doubt or suspicion on the part of Romanians – his good intentions and the direction which he actually wanted things to take from the start.

Nevertheless, it is easy to understand that, within the complicated political mechanism of the state there are reasons and levers that, most of the time, follow one route and take an appearance that may generate confusion and may mislead anyone who is foreign to it all or who looks upon the entire construct’s outward reflection in a profane and amateurish manner.

But, all in all, alongside all the bad news that rains down on us and that seems to be unstoppable lately, there is a piece of good news too.

Dacian Ciolos has officially expressed his intention to engage in politics.

And the political line that the politician Dacian Ciolos seems to take is the centre-right one.

Dacian Ciolos’s mission is one of the most difficult ones in the last 28 years since Romania set out on the road of the world’s democracies.

And that is because Dacian Ciolos must not only pass the test of the PSD/ALDE political Gorgon but especially because it must face the Sphinx of Romanian democracy and answer the most difficult question of all the questions so far, regarding the way in which Romania can still be saved from the imminent disaster of another dictatorship: Who allies in the morning with the Left, at noon with nobody and in the evening with the Opposition?


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