Comment: Bread and circuses
As we watched our TVs last night, following the ambulance that took ex-PM Adrian Nastase through the wet streets of Bucharest on its way to Rahova prison how many of us thought, ‘Well, I wonder how Mr Nastase’s ‘retirement’ from politics will affect the policy-making processes within the Social Democratic Party as they prepare for November’s parliamentary elections?’
I imagine very few.
Similarly, I wonder how many of us ask, as we read the next installment of the fight between the Prime Minister and the President over attendance of EU Council meetings, ‘Yes, but what is their agenda when they go to these meetings? What positions do they actually take while representing Romania in the EU?’
I suspect hardly anyone.
As the elections in November approach, how many of us find ourselves looking forward to reading all the policy programs handed or sent to us by Social Democratic Party, the National Liberal Party, the Democratic Liberal Party (or its successor) and all the other parties that intend to put up candidates? How do they intend to deal with Romania’s problems in the economy, the education system, in health care, in infrastructure development? What is their opinion of Croatia’s suggestion to change the course of the Danube? What do they really think about Serbia’s future admission to the EU and its implications for Romania? Do they all think that an agreement with Turkey to support its push for EU membership will not damage Romania’s claim to membership of the Schengen Area? Do they have a comprehensive vision of Romania’s development in the next twenty years?
There is a saying in politics – give them bread and circuses – meaning that if a ruling elite can keep a population happy with the bare necessities of life and a procession of distractions and entertainment, they can remain in power, undisturbed, for a very long time; with, it seems, having not the slightest idea of what they intend to do for the country now and in the future
In Romanian politics the circus is provided by celebrity culture, scandal and personal vendetta; with the occasional court case and attempted suicide thrown in. That seems to be enough to keep the people and the media occupied without asking for real political direction through public policy debate and implementation.
In the United Kingdom, the very real economic crisis and collapse in young peoples’ living standards can be forgotten when a royal wedding, or a jubilee, or the Olympic games can distract the populace. In Scotland there is a referendum on whether the country should leave the United Kingdom, in 2014, in addition to the economic crisis. However, very many people seem to prefer talking about the closure of Glasgow Rangers football club.
Bread and Circuses, it works every time.
Here is something I heard, since we are on the subject. I heard that none of the journalists waiting outside Mr Nastase’s home to see him taken away by the police, heard a gunshot the night he was rushed to hospital after the attempted suicide…
What do you think of that?
By Ronnie Smith
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.