We have been witnessing during the past few month the overtaking of power by the new majority parliament coalition formed around the Social Liberal Union (USL), to the disadvantage of the former Democratic Liberal Party (PDL), as the latter was also clearly defeated as a political force in the local elections on the 10th of June.
Consequently, this alternation of power is marked by frictions with President Băsescu, intensified not only by his ruling methods during the past eight years but also by the inherent ambiguity of the institutional and constitutional system. Nevertheless, we note that during the two months since USL is in command of the government, both political methods and the actual content of the new government’s policies are no different from those of the criticised former governments. The case to settle the Hidroelectrica insolvency, the health bill, the politicizing of the National Romanian Television, as well as the Brussels statements of Prime Minister Ponta in which he undertook to continue the FMI measures clearly show that we’re faced with the same general political reasoning, regardless of the current names of the players.
Particularly worrisome is the new bill regarding the health reform, recently released for public debate and which basically resumes the principles of the bill representing one of the main grounds of the anti-government protests at the beginning of the year. The premises of the bill are deeply anti-social and are blatantly opposed to the doctrinal principles that should be the ground of any social democratic party – in this case, the Social Democratic Party (PSD) – regardless of the political alliances entered.
Also, we’re alarmed by the tendency toward procedural abuses and the lax interpretation of the Constitution that the new government coalition finds appropriate to employ in order to gain public control. During the two months since it overtook power, Ponta’s Government issued 23 emergency ordinances, as compared to the 14 E.O.s passed by the two former governments between January and April 2012. The high number of emergency ordinances passed by Ponta’s Government indicates a reversion to the governing principles and methods employed by the Liberal Democratic Party (PDL) during previous years, and a further aggravation of these principles, considering the fields in which the USL chooses to elude the Parliament, despite the criticism the USL brought when in opposition against the abuses committed under the “Băsescu dictatorship”.
At the same time, major question marks are raised in relation to the dismissal of the Ombudsman, a gesture just as discretionary as the ones criticised by the USL when in opposition. Just as alarming are the intentions showed in relation to the Constitutional Court, although the intention to revoke certain judged was later refuted. Similarly, the way in which the attributions of the Constitutional Court are amended depending on the political interests of the moment indicates a dangerous attitude from the USL, which finds appropriate to politically juggle with the role and competences of a state institution that should act, by definition, as a warrant of democracy.
That the previous government practised the same methods to endure political dominance is by no means an ethical alibi for the current actions of the USL government, to the contrary, taking into consideration the way in which the electorate criticised the PDL’s sideslips. The USL is now only following its own agenda of political occupation, to the disadvantage of social and economic interests of those they’re striving to govern.
In parallel with the abuses during the past few weeks and, especially, days, the public space is growingly defined by a polarisation, particularly rhetoric, specific to the first years of the post-communist transition. And we seem to be witnessing not the overtaking and the wielding of power by a majority parliament group, but a Bolshevist invasion, where communists get back the government, a coup d´état, a serious attack of the democracy and of the rule of law or, worse – as President Băsescu informed us – a new Mineriad. A growing number of voices, coming both form the current opposition and certain segments of the civil society have denounced and are denouncing these changes in petition, letters and somewhat more recently in calls to street protests.
However, it would be redundant to ask where those calling for immediate and imperative street protests were when Traian Băsescu and the PDL have, for 8 years, taken without hindrance measures that have seriously and directly affected wide social categories, especially by
– 25% cuts on public sector salaries,
– cuts on social benefits,
– closing down schools and hospitals,
– flexibilisation of employment,
– cuts in public spending on education and health,
– privatisations in the energy sector and non-transparent loans from the IMF,
on the background of major abuses and outraging institutional sideslips.
We know where they were: on Băsescu and PDL’s side. What was then called reform and state modernisation is now called coup d´état and Mineriad. Due to the inconsistency of their public stand, all these recent cries of outrage, calls for the salvation and recovery of democracy remain what they actually are: mere and sterile ideological impulse and an expression of impotence in relation to the right wing political power.
Therefore, CriticAtac fully rejects this new extortion of the Romanian public sphere forcing us into a fake choice, into a non-option (pro-PDL, anti-PSD or vice-versa) and the various acts of urgent reaction actually supporting it. What we all need now is an actual reaction and alternative to the current system, the introduction of a genuine socio-political agenda, which cannot be accomplished as long as we stay caught in the power struggle, along with its interests and terms.
Translated by Sanda Watt