received from Romanian social forum
Coup d’etat, coup d’Union, threats to Democracy? Romania’s case
Last summer it was very hot in Bucharest. We had high temperatures, higher than the annual average of the season, but we had also formidable political events seriously drawing EU and America’s attention on Romania. Things have had started in winter, with thousands of people protesting in the streets of more than 60 towns of Romania – despite the unusually hard weather conditions, with massive snowfalls and very low temperatures. First of all, the protesters were asking for the resignation of President Traian Basescu and of the Government obedient to him, and also for distinct parliamentary and presidential elections to be held in advance. Other demands were related to the hard austerity measures undertaken by Basescu regime in 2011, whith a very severe impact on the living conditions of the population, especially the budget employees and the pensioners.
Due to the growing discontent of the population at the beginig of an electoral year, President Basescu has tried to move strategically, dismissing Prime Minister Emil Boc and the Government led by him, and appointing the Chief of Foreign Intelligence Mihai Razvan Ungureanu as Prime Minister.
Formerly Foreign Minister during Basescu’s first mandate as president, Ungureanu, an ex-Communist Youth Union local leader, had studied in several western countries and Israel, speaks fluently some foreign languages including Jewish, and is considered to be America’s option for Basescu’s successor in presidency. Despite his personal capabilities and the alleged capacities of the ministers – most of them young, but strongly related to the former ones – the new Government was not able to convince neither the population nor the political environment; after less than two months it failed following a censure motion in Parliament. Basescu had no other option than appointing the recently constituted Social Liberal Union leader Victor Ponta as the new prime Minister.
This was the first success of the opposition since the presidential elections in 2009, when newly re-elected Basescu has had taken profit of all his powers, even forcing the constitutional limits, to change the balance within Parliament, by determining – generally through some un-orthodox means – a number of social-democrats and national-liberals to get off their parties, come alongside his Orange camp, the Democrat-Liberal Party, and make-up a majoritary coalition totally obedient to him, with Boc re-re-appointed Prime Minister.
This first success of the opposition has been anticipated with the creation of the Social Liberal Union by the three opposition parties – Social Democrat Party, National Liberal Party and Conservative Party – and also by intensifying efforts for strengthening the Union with the dissatisfied populars and formerly fugitives (actually grouped within a new party – National Union for Progress) joining SLU in order to make-up a new majority in Parliament, able to suspend President Basescu and hold a Referendum for his dismissal.
Once approved by Paliament, the new Government has undertaken the first measures answering the demands of the population, some of them aimed at repairing the hard consequences of the Popular-stile austerity and some others related to the electoral agenda. Local elections have been held in June, with Social Liberal Union obtaining a clear victory. The Social-liberal plan was successful, again, and the time came for a third very important step – to sanction the supremacy of the new majority – by changing the Orange presidents of the two chambers, who have been replaced by a liberal (Senate) and a social-democrat (Chamber of Deputies).
The decision to suspend President Basescu and organize a Referendum on July 29th for his dismissal seems to have been a part of this third move of the new majority.
Despite its being totally democratic, this move has surpised Basescu and his Orange camp, given the rapidity and easiness of that undertaking. Consequently it opened the way for a political blow-up in Bucharest, Brussels and some other European capitals, and also in Washington, with Basescu claiming a coup d’etat which he considered a dangerous attack against democracy. Claiming also high pressures on the “State institutions” (Constitutional Court, Superior Council of Magistracy, National Anticorruption Department, General Prosecutor’s Office etc. – yet all of them totally obedient to President Basescu), a strong propaganda machinery has been set to work in Europe and America, allarming the Popular Movement fortresses.
The most incissive “rocket launcher”, Euorparliamentarian Monica Macovei has set fire in Brussels, determining Jose Manuel Barroso, Vivianne Reding Wilfried Maertens and others to take strong positions against the Romanian Government, and a “strike group” made up of immage builders (mostly journaslists) consistently sponsorized for some years through The Romanian Cultural Institute did the same in Washington and some European capitals, especially in Berlin, with “Austerity Mother” Angela Merkel in front of the defenders of Basescu regime. So, at the very beginning of the Referendum campaign, we could witness very severe speeches and press articles condemning the coup d’etat in Bucharest and the threats to democracy.
Largely echoed in Romanian mass-media, mostly obedient to Basescu, all this messages were considered a strong support to the suspended president. Meanwhile, during this campaign without rhyme or reason, European Commision President Barroso handed Prime Minister Victor Ponta a questionnaire in 11 points to which he had to answer positively, so that the independence of Justice in Romania should not be touched – although sufficient evidence and assurances were officially given by Romanian Government that Justice in Romania was working without any governmental interference. Prime Minister Ponta has made the mistake and unconditionally accepted the questionnaire, seemingly without understanding its real sense. He also answered those points, both in short and in detail. On the other hand, US State Secretary Hillary Clinton’s assistant Phil Gordon has paid a short visit to Bucharest, without taking into account the evidence and firmly asking for positive responses to all the 11 points.
There was a “trap” point in that questionnaire – also suggested by Basescu team in Bucharest – a point obliging the Romanian Government to recognize the Referendum as being valid only in case that 50% plus 1 of the voters would attend polling. There it was a special situation which the new government in Bucharest wasn-t in touch with: the real number of the population of Romania, and the real number of the Romanians having the right to vote, both of them yet unknown; the former Boc governments has left unfinished statistics following the last census in 2011, and out-of-dated electoral lists – with more than 3 million Romanians settled abroad and their names entered on the permanent electoral lists, contrary to the electoral legislation of Romania. So, the quorum should have been reched with more than 9 million voters exercising their right, instead of less than
8 million as indicated by reality. Taking into account the EU practices, inspired from the recommendations of Vennice Commision which asks for the quorums not to be resorted to, one can imagine, we have to talk about a coup d’Union aginst the State of Romania, with President Basescu
democratically suspended, rather than about a coup d’etat against President Basescu and the really untouched State institutions.
Profiting by such a strong support from outside and inside, and also by the irresolute conduct of the governmental authorities, Basescu has waged a strong campaign for Referendum, claiming the same alleged pressures, criticizing the Government and, at the begining, calling people to go to voting and make their choice for his come-back, then (seen his serious fall-down in popularity) asking people to boycott the Referendum.
At the end of this dirty campaign some 8,3 million people attended polling, and 7,4 million (87,52%) of them voted “Yes” for Basescu’s dismissal. Despite such a shocking percentage the Constitutional Court didn’t validate the Referendum. European Union, Germany, United States may exult now; with less than 5,3 million people voting for Basescu’s re-election in 2009 and 7,4 million people voting for his dismissal in 2012 Basescu remains in power – a fully (by himself) impowered president of a semi-presidential republic. At the same time constitutional referee between the Powers in State and player – as he proclaimed himself from the very beginning – he appoints the leaders of all the State institutions and is pleased by their unconditional obedience. Accused on significant corruption facts in several criminal files, Basescu is also pleased by a presidential immunity resulting from a twisted interpretation of the Constitution and laws by a Justice obedient to himself. Basescu is the president whom EU, Germany and The USA seem to trust in. Do they?
Yes, they trust in Basescu, because he is the first one among the presidents-in-power who have unconditionally accepted their demands for the total privatization of the national strategic resources and industries to the profit of transnational companies, for at least doubtful IMF policy, for a hard austerity supported by the poor and the middle class, and for many other givings in. They trust Basescu because he is the president-in-power who openly denies the right of a parliament majority to decide for the nation. And they state this is Democracy. Is it?
It might be, according to their vision, but 7.4 million people in Romania is still unhappy with Basescu as president and angry with the Social Liberal Union for its mistakes and lack of will to make Basescu resign. They are also angry with EU, with Germany and America for their policy, which is contrary to their interests.
They are the real majority of the voting population of Romania, and they are angry at the new trend in global policy of not taking into account the majorities. They still believe in democracy, understand Popular Movement’s falldown in popularity due to its failure in confronting the global crisis. Here in Romania they still hope Basescu will leave and doors will open for a long series of illegalities, fraudulent activities and corruption acts to be dismantled by a new, really independent Justice, not by this extremely obedient one. Allthough in his first presidential campaign Basescu had been proclaiming himself a strongly determined fighter against corruption and the “system”, during his two mandates (eight years) billions of Euros were drained from the budget to the accounts of those ones in power, enriching them, collapsing Romania’s economy and diminishing its capacity to face crisis. This is the reason for which Romanians don’t like and don’t want Basescu yet.
With about 40% of them under the threshold of poverty,
with a similar percentage of the National Gross Revenue flowing underground, with salaries at least five times lower than the EU average and prices at the EU level (sometimes even higher), why should Romanians accept continuing this austerity supportability test. Basescu must go, we have to make him go, on the democratic way