Politeía Digest

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Posts Tagged ‘Democracy

Aggressive opportunist

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Romania’s Prime Minister Victor Ponta risks all.

Victor Ponta has a taste for the political ambush. In 2010, he won the leadership of Romania’s Social Democrats (PSD) within five days of announcing his candidacy. This summer, in the space of four days, he used his position as his country’s stop-gap prime minister to suspend the president and remove the speakers of parliament and the national ombudsman.

Ponta is clearly a man who strikes fast and effectively. To have become a prime minister at 39 also suggests an astute, calculating brain. Yet within weeks of President Traian Basescu’s suspension, the European Commission – and, crucially, Germany’s Social Democrats – forced him to issue a mea culpa in the form of 11 promises of corrective action. Somehow, a man who has a decade of political contacts with the European Union, and whose wife is a member of the European Parliament, had misjudged the EU.

A polyglot who speaks English, French and Italian, Ponta comes from a modest family that had moved from southern Romania to Bucharest. Vladimir Tismaneanu, a professor at the University of Maryland, recalls Ponta as the leader of the PSD’s youth wing as a “flamboyant leftist militant with an unabashed admiration for Che Guevera” and some admiration for Chinese communism. “I thought he was a relatively naïve east European leftist”, he says, though Ponta was already the head of the Government Audit Agency. Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by Theophyle

October 24, 2012 at 11:25 am

Ceausescu super-star

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The Telegraph: Romania is sliding unremarked into despotism

By Daniel Hannan July 18th, 2012

It started with the cuts. In January, Romania became the fourth EU country (after Greece, Italy and the Netherlands) to see its government fall over Brussels-imposed austerity measures.

Romania has a largely parliamentary system. The president, however, does have important non-ceremonial powers, especially when it comes to the formation of new administrations. President Traian Băsescu, who had been loosely affiliated to the defeated Centre-Right government, accordingly asked Mihai Răzvan Ungureanu, an independent, to form a ministry that could deliver budgetary restraint. Leftist parties immediately began to suborn individual MPs until, three months later, the government fell on a confidence motion. A heterogeneous administration was then put together under the socialist Victor Ponta, united mainly by its hostility to the former regime. Read the rest of this entry »

The Washington Post: About a Political Disaster – 3 in 1

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Romania’s repressive moves

By Editorial Board, Saturday, July 14, 2:24 AM

COVERAGE OF THE crisis in Europe has tended to focus on economic questions, such as whether Greece or other governments will default on their debts or whether the euro currency will survive. The growing political damage to institutions, and to democracy itself, is sometimes overlooked. But in several countries there has been an alarming erosion of political comity and constitutional checks and balances, driven by populists who exploit the public’s dissatisfaction with economic hardship. Read the rest of this entry »

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 . Read the rest of this entry »

Krugman NYT : Romania Unravels the Rule of Law

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A political crisis has gripped Romania as its left-leaning prime minister, Victor Ponta, slashes and burns his way through constitutional institutions in an effort to eliminate his political competition.

In the last few days, Ponta and his center-left Social Liberal Union (USL) party have sacked the speakers of both chambers of parliament, fired the ombudsman, threatened the constitutional court judges with impeachment and prohibited constitutional court from reviewing acts of parliament – all with the aim of making it easier for Ponta to remove President Traian Basescu from office. They hope to accomplish that by week’s end. Read the rest of this entry »