Politeía Digest

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Der Spiegel: Democracy Loses as Romania Spins out of Control – by Andrei Plesu

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No longer is the government in Romania characterized merely by mistakes, excesses and professional incompetence. Prime Minister Victor Ponta has launched a brutal attack on the country’s institutions, democratic principles and the rule of law.

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Newly installed Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta, 39, and his political allies are attempting to consolidate their power in Romania. After replacing the parliamentary president and restricting the powers of the country’s Constitutional Court , the coalition led by Ponta, a Social Democrat, is now seeking to impeach President Traian Basescu. The parliament began proceedings last Friday, suspending the president. A nationwide referendum is to be held at the end of the month. The opposition is calling it a “coup,” and Romanian philosopher and art historian Andrei Pleu, 63, is also concerned. He is viewed as an intellectual authority both in Romania and abroad. Prior to the fall of Communism Pleu was a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bucharest, but was forced to give up teaching when he was banished to a village for associating with dissidents shortly before the overthrow of then dictator Nicolae Ceauescu. Pleu served as minister of culture after 1989 before working as a philosophy professor. From 1997 to 1999 he was Romania ‘s foreign minister as an independent. He currently heads the New Europe College in Bucharest .

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During my stay in Berlin in recent weeks, I met with the former mayor of Budapest several times. Starting in 1990, Gábor Demszky governed the city for 20 years; now he was telling me about the situation in Hungary. He sees it as a fatal mixture between the administrations of Miklós Horthy, the Hungarian head of state who served at Hitler’s pleasure, and János Kádár, the later head of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party. According to Demszky, the situation is characterized by dictatorial and fascist impulses, an atmosphere of personal power struggles and drastic restrictions of free speech.

I was pleased to be able to tell him that Romania was in better shape. There is certainly corruption, I said, and there are dangerous political and administrative turf wars and every conceivable form of abuse and blunders. But, I added, we are not on the verge of dictatorship. Almost two months have passed since then, and now I must change my assessment: Romania is looking more and more Hungarian!

I have no intention of idealizing previous governments. They had to implement austerity measures that protected Romania from the kinds of chaotic conditions that prevail in Greece. But they also created resentment among Romanians by tolerating too many moral and legal offences within their own ranks. They paid little attention to education and healthcare, and they served their own political clientele, thereby obstructing efforts to rebuild the country’s ruined infrastructure.

I worked for five months with President Traian Basescu, whose overthrow is currently in the works, and I know how destructive and brutal his behavior and his words can be. But the new government, which is a not very convincing mixture of the Socialists — who emerged from the old communist party — and the National Liberals, has managed to almost completely eliminate the European idea from the canon of government.

A Suicidal Declaration

It isn’t just mistakes, excesses and professional incompetence that we are talking about now. We are talking about a radical and brutal attack on the country’s institutions, on democratic principles and on the independent and reliable judiciary.

In a suicidal declaration, the current prime minister, Dr. Victor Ponta, claims that he devotes “75 percent of the time in government meetings to political turf warfare.” For weeks, he has been confronted with accusations that he plagiarized extensively when writing his doctoral thesis. Yet his behavior leads us to conclude that he doesn’t know what constitutes plagiarism. He believes that he can copy 85 pages from another work with impunity, and without identifying the text as a quotation. When the commission that was appointed to investigate the charges of plagiarism confirmed the suspicion, it was summarily dismissed.

Meanwhile, the prime minister travels to the EU summit in Brussels even though he lacks the mandate to represent Romania. In doing so, he ignores a ruling by the constitutional court that it was the president who should have gone to Brussels instead. And what happened next? The powers of the constitutional court were drastically curtailed.

Half-baked amendments are bulldozed through the parliament and institutional powers are restricted, established procedure is ignored without any plausible explanation being provided. The management of the national archive (which had been tasked with securing access to documents relating to the communist dictatorship) is dismissed as are the boards of the government-run television station and the institute for investigation of political crimes before 1989. The same fate befalls the ombudsman, who represents Romanian citizens in complaints against government entities, as well as the chairmen of both chambers of parliament. Read more in Der Spiegel.

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Romanian Translation

“În timpul şederii mele recente în Berlin, în aceste săptămâni, m-am întâlnit cu fostul primar al Budapestei, de câteva ori. Începând din 1990, Gabor Demsky a condus oraşul vreme de 20 de ani, acum îmi povestea despre situaţia din Ungaria. Şi vede un amestec fatal între administraţia lui Miklos Horthy, şeful de stat care i-a făcut pe plac lui Hitler, şi Janos Kadar, şeful Partidului Muncitoresc Socialist Ungar. Potrivit lui Demsky, situaţia e caracterizată de impulsuri fasciste şi dictatoriale, o atmosferă de bătălii personale şi restricţii drastice ale libertăţii de exprimare.

Am fost încântat să-i pot povesti că România este într-o stare mai bună. Există cu siguranţă corupţie, am spus, şi există războaoie politice şi administrative periculoase şi forme de abuz i gafe. Dar, am adăugat, nu suntem pe marginea dictaturii. Aproape două luni au trecut de atunci, iar acum trebuie să-mi schimb părerea: România arată din ce în ce mai mult a Ungaria.

Nu am nicio intenţie să-i idealizez pe foştii guvernanţi. Am implementat măsuri de austeritate pentru a proteja România de tot soiul de fenomene haotice care s-au întâmplat Greciei. Dar au creat în acelaşi timp un resentiment în rândurile românilor prin tolerarea a prea multe abuzuri morale şi legale venite din rândurile celor ai lor. Au acordat prea puţină atenţie educaţiei şi sănătăţii, şi-au servit propria clientelă, obstrucţionând eforturile de a reconstrui ilnfrastructura ruinată a ţării.

Am lucrat vreme de cinci luni pentru preşedintele Traian Băsescu, a cărui demitere se află în curs, şi ştiu cât de de brutale şi distructive pot comportamentul şi cuvintele sale. Dar noul guvern, care o combinaţie neconvingătoare de socialişti, descendenţi din Partidul Comunist – şi naţional-liberali, a reuşit să elimine aproape complet ideea europeană din agenda sa.

O declaraţie suicidală

Nu e vorba doar de greşeli, excese şi incompetenţă profesională. Vorbim de un atac radical şi brutal asupra instituţiilor statului, a principiilor democratice şi a independenţei şi încrederii în justiţie.

Într-o declaraţie suicidală, premierul Victor Ponta, pretinde că 75% din timpul şedinţelor de guvern este alocat disputelor politice. De câteva săptămâni, Ponta a fost acuzat de plagiat masiv în teza sa de doctorat. Totuşi comportamentul său ne face să credem că nu ştie ce înseamnă plagiatul. El crede că poate copia 85 de pagini din opera altcuiva cu nonşalanţă, şi fără a identifica sursa textului cu un citat. Atunci când comisia care a fost desemnată să investigheze acuzaţiile de plagiat a confirmat suspiciunile, a fost desfiinţată sumar.

În acelaşi timp, premierul a mers la Summitul Consiliului European de la Bruxelles fără să aibă mandat să reprezinte România. Făcând asta, a ignorat o decizie a Curţii Constituţionale care a decis că preşedintele ar fi fost cel care trebuia să meargă la Bruxelles. Şi ce s-a întâmplat imediat? Puterile Curţii Constituţionale au fost dramatic tăiate”.  Continuarea, în Der Spiegel, tradus de RTV

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  1. […] să investigheze acuzaţiile de plagiat a confirmat suspiciunile, a fost desfiinţată sumar. Compilatie integrala in engleza si in limba romana pe Politeia Digest Share this:FacebookTwitterEmailStumbleUponPinterestMoreLinkedInLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]


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