And so as the sunny days shorten, the temperatures become bearable and we head towards autumn, Romanian politics appears to find itself in exactly the same position as it was in June. This in spite of a period of extraordinary turmoil that included:
- The virtual collapse of PDL in Parliament and the isolation of Mr Basescu in the Presidential palace.
- A struggle for control of appointments to the highest levels of Romania’s judiciary and a campaign, mounted by the Prime Minister, Mr Ponta, to bring important functions of government and state under his control.
- A serious attack on the credibility of Mr Ponta, presumably mounted by Mr Basescu, centered on the PhD plagiarism scandal.
- The USL’s parliamentary impeachment of and continuous campaign against Mr Basescu as President including his suspension from office and the appointment of PNL’s Mr Antonescu as interim President.
- A seemingly endless war of words between the main factions in Romanian politics that saw everyone involved called a liar, brought the reputation of most of the country’s civil institutions into serious disrepute, pretty much destroyed Romania’s reputation as a developing country and saw incitement to rise up against the ‘middle class’ judiciary from Mr Ponta and his supporters and warnings of civil war from Mr Basescu’s supporters. I’m still waiting for the barricades and tanks to emerge from the shadows.
In the end, following an utterly mismanaged referendum in which Mr Ponta’s shortage of tactical awareness and operational incompetence was laid bare and Mr Antonescu proved unable to convince enough people that he would make a credible replacement for Mr Basescu, at this particular moment in the presidential election cycle, we have Mr Basescu back in Cotroceni Palace.
The question is, to what extent has all this mayhem changed anything?
Well, a renovated party of the right is emerging to take the place of the failed PDL-led coalition (Democratic Liberal Party). Perhaps Mr Ungureanu can encourage his colleagues to think about being genuinely Conservative and pro-business, with a program of policies to take before the Romanian people at the parliamentary elections on 9 December.
The PDL and USL (Social Liberal Union) seem to have fought themselves to a standstill at the moment and they may, possibly, take a break to focus on taking advantage of the forthcoming sale of state assets. Now is the time for Mr Ponta’s Economic Adviser, General Wesley Clark, to earn his fee. A fee paid not by the Romanian state, but by his clients including Chevron and Mr George Soros.
And what of the freedom and independence of the all-important Romanian judiciary of which Mr Basescu was internationally lauded as the defender? Note, as I have, that as soon as Mr Basescu had moved back into Cotroceni Palace Mr Dinu Patriciu, a very wealthy and influential man, was acquitted of all of the serious charges he faced. I shall not comment on the truce that may now have been declared between these two old adversaries and what it may mean for the future with election campaigns coming up. Nor shall I comment on the deal which the defender of judicial independence might have concocted with the court to have Mr Patriciu set free.
Finally, Mr Antonescu now finds himself in something of a political vacuum having , in a sense, fallen off the train carrying PSD’s campaign against Mr Basescu. However, there are few things more interesting than a senior politician in a situation where he doesn’t owe anyone anything. Only two years ago, Mr Antonescu emerged from the Presidential elections as a very popular and respected politician. Perhaps now he can remember why he entered politics in the first place, so long ago.
By Ronnie Smith, Guest Writer
Ronnie Smith is Scottish and now lives in Romania, working as a professional training business consultant and communication coach. He is also a teacher of political science, a political and social commentator and a writer of fiction. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Romania Insider.com.