Denis Healy, a famous/notorious British politician of the 1950s/60s and 70s once remarked of an opponent who was getting into a tight spot, "When you find yourself in a hole…stop digging." I never forgot it because it’s one of the most valuable pieces of advice that I've ever come across. Looking at Mr Ponta’s performance since he took office as Prime Minister of Romania, one has to wish that he had a friend who could offer him such sterling support.
In the past few months Mr Ponta has responded to the simple fact of Mr Basescu’s presence at the Presidential Palace and aggravated behavior by ripping up various parts of Romania’s Constitution, attacking the members of the Constitutional Court by questioning their validity, removing the mandate of the academic qualifications committee that was investigating claims of plagiarism against him, while they were in the middle of a meeting, and made Romania and himself a laughing stock in front of the whole of Europe, at the most important European Union Council meeting of recent times. I won’t mention the Nastase drama, a fiasco that did no-one any good.
The case of the EU Council meeting was particularly instructive as it focused on proposed solutions to the ongoing crisis in the eurozone. However, the Romanian delegates were more interested in fighting over who would attend the meeting, rather than preparing their policy positions. Indeed, the Prime Minister’s credentials were only confirmed at the last moment and in the most chaotic fashion. A senior EU official confirmed that it really didn’t matter whom Romania sent to Brussels, as the country takes no serious part in decision-making. This is a situation that seems unlikely to change in the near future.
Mr Ponta appears to have a huge shovel in his hands with which he is creating a massive hole in the middle of his personal credibility. He rushes into hasty and ill-advised actions in the face of Mr Basescu’s rear guard actions against the USL government. Clearly the USL would like to remove Mr Basescu from office. Obviously they would like to replace Mr Basescu’s supporters in every state and government office.
However, Mr Ponta is the Prime Minister. He leads a government that will probably be in place for some time to come and Mr Basescu is in a very weak position having seen his party collapse and he will be leaving office soon. His only pleasure these days is watching Mr Ponta run around the yard like a headless chicken.
A little patience, dignity and an exhibition of sound judgment from the Prime Minister of Romania would be good for him, his supporters and sponsors, and the country as a whole, particularly in its relations with the international community in these times of crisis.
So, Mr Ponta, take a step back, recalibrate your approach, tell Mr Antonescu to calm down, drop the shovel and stop digging.
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.