The moment when Romania’s government becomes a legitimate target

The stakes are high in Bucharest this week, not least for Liviu Dragnea, leader of Romania’s largest and ruling party the PSD. Already serving a two-year suspended prison sentence for vote rigging, Dragnea faces a corruption trial – perhaps as early as March – which would see him immediately imprisoned should he be found guilty. Hence the desperate rush to push through two emergency ordinances (OUGs) which would annul his first conviction and see the current case against him dropped. He would be as clean and without sin as a newly christened baby (and ready to take his rightful place as prime minister, he would no doubt add – the law currently forbids convicts from being prime minister, which is why Sorin Grindeanu is the de jure, if not de facto prime minister).

Dragnea of course is not the only leading figure in the PSD (or amongst its allies) who would benefit from the two OUGs (yes, there are two: one pardons those already convicted, the other obliterates the current justice system and would void just about every case the DNA has put together). Those other PSD leaders include former prime minister Victor Ponta, the mayor of Bucharest’s Sector 3 Robert Negoita, former foreign minister Adrian Severin and former mayor of Constanta Radu Mazare. Not to mention ALDE leader Calin-Popescu Tariceanu and media moguls Dan Voiculescu and Sebastian Ghita. Given how many senior leaders and financial backers of the government would directly benefit from the OUGs, it is clear why Dragnea has made pushing them through his top priority since the government took office: they have been drafted to ensure that the right people are released as soon as possible. They are an abuse of the power Romania’s voters entrusted the PSD with in December’s elections.

In his column in today’s Adevarul, Liviu Avram describes how all Dragnea needs is ‘one minute’: as long as the OUGs are issued and then subsequently published in the Monitorul Oficial for just one minute then they become all but irreversible. There is very little that the president, parliament or the Constitutional Court can do: anyone freed will almost certainly never go back to prison.

It is therefore likely that the OUGs will indeed be issued – possibly this Wednesday – and to hell with the consequences.

Until now, all of those who have been protesting against the OUGs have gone to great lengths to point out that they are not protesting against the government per se, or the PSD’s right to govern, but merely the OUGs themselves. Like it or not, people recognise and acknowledge that the PSD won a mandate to govern in December’s election. 

It did not, however, win a mandate to pass laws that would legalise theft for the first time since Moses came down from Sinai. As such, should the abusive OUGs be issued, then everything changes and the gloves will rightly come off. The very moment the OUGs are issued the government will no longer have any moral authority, regardless of how big its parliamentary majority is, or how many votes it took in the election. It will at that moment become an illegitimate government and a legitimate target for protest. Dragnea is more than aware of this, but almost certainly doesn’t care.

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4 thoughts on “The moment when Romania’s government becomes a legitimate target

  1. Please tell me Mr Turp, because I know that you have a deep understanding of Romanian politics and society because you have been living in Romanian for a long time and did all your best to go native and eat mici and mamaliga and learn the basics of Romanian, dute in mata and all the rest, you know.

    I would like to know how do you explain that in 2014 Johannis won with 54.5% while two years later PSD won with 45.5%. So, some (quite a lot) of the people who voted for Johannis in 2014 voted for PSD in 2016? Why did they do it? I find the two options incompatible. Or maybe, some (quite a lot) of those who voted for Johannis didn’t vote at all in 2016. Neither with the fresh new USR. Were they not concerned with the bad reputation of PSD? Don’t they care much about the possibility of a setback in the fight against corruption? Then why did they vote for Johannis in the first place?

    Unless I understand this bewildering incident of Romanian politics and society I consider wiser to try to suspend my judgements on Romania and watch the show of the Romanian politics in the same way I would watch… Kabuki. (But that’s me…)

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  2. Explicatii sunt mai multe. O sa enumar cateva, dar nu este o lista exhaustiva.

    * la prezidentiale era clar cine e “ala rau”, si deci invers, cine e ala “suportabil” (sa nu zic bun, pt ca eu de exemplu n-am fost fana lui Johannis, in primul tur am votat cu Monica Macovei. Dar intre Ponta si Iohannis nu incapea comparatia si/sau intrebare oare cu cine tin). Conversely, la parlamentare erau toti cam o apa si un pamant (mai putin bietul USR, care nici ala nu era perfect si mai ales nu stiu cat de cunoscut a fost de catre populatie). Am vazut o gramada zicand ca “o sa votez [la parlamentare] cand o sa am cu cine sa votez”. S-a si vazut de altfel ca prezenta a fost mai degraba scazuta. In plus, faptul ca in cei doi ani trecuti de la alegerea lui Iohannis multi s-au simtit dezamagiti de el nu a ajutat situatia deloc.

    * la prezidentiale mobilizarea s-a datorat (si) diasporei, care a iesit in numar mare sa-si voteze presedintele (ma rog, sa fie anti-Ponta, din ce-am constatat eu). Chestia e ca la prezidentiale votul meu “de afara” este echivalentul unui vot oarecare din tara, deci efortul merita facut la fel de mult atat in tara cat si in afara granitelor. La parlamentare insa, sa fim seriosi, diaspora are ceva gen 6 oameni in total (4 senatori si 2 deputati, sau invers), deci diaspora n-a mai avut de ce sa se mobilizeze (si prin extensie sa mobilizeze si din cei din tara) avand in vedere ca si daca mergeau trei diasporeni, si daca mergeau trei milioane, influenta asupra parlamentului (a.k.a rezultatul final) toti aia 6 oameni erau. Diaspora este cam anti-PSD de felul ei, iar lipsa ei explica o parte din diferenta de voturi pt Klaus in 2014 vs pt cineva non-PSD in 2016.

    * mai sunt si motivatii financiare (“PSD a promis ca ne face si ne da”), plus doi ani in plus de spalare a creierelor cauzata de antena 3 si rtv (eu nu ma uit la TV dar am inteles ca bietul guvern tehnocrat a fost atacat saracul in toate felurile, si scos responsabil pt toate problemele intamplate vreodata; “uite cat de grea e viata cu tehnocratii, nu ca pe vremea lui Ponta, cand era lapte si miere”).

    Motive sigur mai sunt, dar mi se pare ca si cele cateva enumerate de mine explica situatia suficient.

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  3. The country is just ridden with ex-communists,secret service
    men,henchmen of former criminal regime. Those individuals just plundered
    the assets by graft,inside trading and sheer theft under the protection
    of Iliescu(an instigator to crimes against civilians)still president of
    PSD. The toxic results pervade all society simply because those
    individuals cannot thrive in another type of society than in a deeply
    rotten one. To take just one example Hexipharma(a pharmaceutical scam)
    is a company founded by former communists and now with secret service,
    officials as stakeholders.

    Little wonder that the turnover for the election was around 40% mening
    that one is senator with 10% of the vote. So much so for the
    representativity. A situation that is called pre-revolutionnary. Some
    kind of turmoil would only be natural. Remember Ceausescu’s end ?

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