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September 18, 2020

PSD and nationalist experiments

Two minor initiatives have gone almost unnoticed once they appeared on the Romanian political scene dominated by the preparations for the PSD’s party conference. Thus, a party and an association have recently been born: the Romanian Nation Party and the ‘Romania 3.0’ Civic Initiative, whose significance however surpasses the level of negligible electoral niches. The said party was founded by Ninel Peia, a former PSD House lawmaker excluded for making conspiracy theory statements regarding the deaths of some children, which he blamed on the noxious effects of vaccinations.

However, one of his legislative initiatives is close to being adopted: the banning of sexual education in schools in case it is not sanctioned by the parents of the pupils. Several high-ranking servicemen join him as members of the fresh party, including former PUNR President Mircea Chelaru alongside more than 3,000 retired officers. The ‘Romania 3.0’ Civic Initiative was launched by former SRI officer Daniel Dragomir, who was at one point arrested in the Black Cube affair. An Israeli company founded by a former Mossad chief was hired to spy on the DNA Chief Prosecutor in order to compromise her. The middleman was precisely former colonel Dragomir, now ready to get involved in politics. A potential beneficiary was Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz, involved in businesses investigated by the DNA, in which Senate Speaker Calin Popescu-Tariceanu was also allegedly involved. Steinmetz was collaborating with political consultant Tal Silberstein, who had significant ties with PSD leaders.

At any rate, the two new movements are similar through a discourse that is now in fashion in Europe, which is directly backed by Russian propaganda and forged by cynical advisors such as the Israeli advisors – who do not hesitate to demonise George Soros even at the risk of generating waves of antisemitism.

A call on traditional Christian values – it is extremely debatable to what extent this has any direct link with the precepts of the Gospel –, a fear of the “invasion” of large masses of Muslim migrants, a political philosophy based on conspiracy theories, a taste for authoritarianism. These are not the first experiments of this kind in Romania. The 1990s were also dominated by several nationalist parties such as the Great Romania Party (PRM) and the Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR), today failed (or absorbed). Recently, Sebastian Ghita – yet to be extradited from Serbia –, a person formerly close to PSD leader Victor Ponta, tried to boost a small nationalist party – the United Romania Party – made up of former PSD and PRM politicians, a party that nevertheless did not obtain electoral results that would have allowed it to enter Parliament.

The stake is to speculate a growing Euroscepticism – still weaker in Romania compared to other regional countries –, an ambiguous religiosity based on Islamophobia and homophobia, as well as the acute crisis of confidence in official political discourse. For the time being, the success of the promoters of the new current of opinion is limited to television viewers who watch Antena 3 or Romania TV, but electoral fruits may also appear in the future. Various experiments are being made now, but subsequently a detour precisely within the PSD is not ruled out either.

There is already talk of Liviu Dragnea’s intention to remove the party from the socialist group and to make it join the Central-European illiberals from the group of “conservatives and reformists.” It is not by chance that the PSD leader lately has improved his ties with Viktor Orban via UDMR leader Kelemen Hunor. And PSD MEPs have recently voted against the resolution condemning Poland for anti-democratic backsliding. Dragnea is dreaming to resuscitate nationalism, but he does not yet have a sufficiently inspired strategy to give a new identity to the party, which is still facing the past too much.

The weak point is the EU’s still positive image in a country that enjoys the advantages of integration more than the disadvantages. A country with extremely low immigration, in part thrilled with the successes against endemic corruption, and which knows that economic nationalism is a dangerous fairy tale. Moreover, PSD’s image suffered seriously with the attack on Justice. Many understood that that was solely some politicians’ attempt to avoid punishment, and the new anti-ecology laws will rekindle a young electorate that is redoubtable in protests. Not to mention the ambivalent effects of the so-called fiscal reform, because alongside those with high salaries, not few are now seeing their incomes lowered. And those who believe that George Soros is the natural father of the DNA Chief will remain much fewer than those who will not enjoy such cheap propaganda and who will change their electoral options. The referendum against homosexual marriages alone is not sufficient to win the future elections. PSD’s positioning actually risks lowering the number of those who would otherwise have been in favour of the proposed constitutional amendment. Last but not least, the pride of having a president seen as a potential EU leader will matter in rapport to the spiteful proposals of nationalist autarchy. As long as most Romanians remain favourable to the EU, PSD cannot hope for a new youth.



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