Today, July 29, 2012, Romanians are going to the polls to vote for or against impeachment of their President, Traian Basescu. It is not something Romanians are happy about since their choices are either the old communist guard represented by President Traian Basescu or the new communism represented by the Prime Minister, Victor Ponta, and his ruling parliamentary coalition government.
It was unprecedented that a German Chancellor attacked another European Prime Minister so publicly. Angela Merkel gave Victor Ponta a dressing down for his attempted coup and unconstitutional removal of the President in a democracy.
Never before did the President of the European Union raise his voice to a Prime Minister of a member country in the manner in which the socialist Martin Schulz expressed his displeasure to the humiliated socialist Victor Ponta.
Victor Ponta and his USL (social liberal union) dominated coalition are eager and desperate to remove President Basescu by any means necessary. In order to remove the president, USL must win the referendum which must be valid, meaning that 9 million Romanians must show up to vote, according to the decision of the Constitutional Court.
Sadly for Prime Minister Ponta, he and the USL do not have popular support. If they did, Romanians would show up en masse to vote and President Basescu would be impeached. The problem is that Romanians are sick of all parties and their endemic corruption. There is a reason why representatives spend millions to get elected – they stand to make billions once they win a coveted parliamentary post.
Prime Minister Ponta was reminded that Romania is beholden to the powers that rule the EU and the monetary policy of the euro, the European Central Bank, the IMF, and indirectly Germany and United States. Romania’s budget is partially covered by its economy and the tax base from the existing private firms. The rest of the national income is derived from EU loans, backed by various banks.
When Romania finally said no to communism in December 1989, the former communist apparatchiks took advantage of the temporary power vacuum created and dismantled as much of the industry as possible, selling national assets for personal gain, piece by piece, without any accountability, to foreign investors who had no idea that those assets belonged to “the people.” Honest citizens remained poor – they did not steal anything, and refused million dollar loans from the west that they knew they could not possibly pay back.
Ponta’s government has a 70 percent majority in Parliament and there should be no reason why it cannot begin to govern and implement the anti-crisis plans they had promised the voters during the electoral campaign. Unfortunately, Romanians know well that the coalition’s sole interest is the interest of most politicians – corruption and bribery. Since President Basescu started doing his job and arrested some of the more blatant corruption culprits, the USL dominated coalition would have to play by the rules of law, an inconvenience that could be eliminated by impeaching the President.
Prime Minister Victor Ponta wrote an article titled “Romanian Reality,” in Foreign Policy Magazine on July 26, 2012, defending his government takeover attempt.
“Impeachment proceedings have been carried out in strict accordance with the law, as confirmed by the Constitutional Court. The proceedings themselves are a response to Basescu’s repeated abuses of power, again confirmed by the Constitutional Court. The vote for impeachment passed Parliament by a two-thirds majority, and 70 percent of voters now oppose Basescu, according to opinion polls. The final word now rests with the Romanian people, who will vote in a free and fair referendum on Sunday, July 29…Basescu’s call for a boycott is an anti-democratic step designed to avoid impeachment at any cost.”
Ponta forgot to mention in his article how he stripped the Court of its right to overrule the Parliament when the Constitutional Court made the decision based on precedent that the President should attend the European summit not the Prime Minister. He also failed to mention how he replaced some members including the Ombudsman, with his political allies. Ponta did not mention the fact that “he seized the official bulletin in which laws were published in an attempt to control legislation, delay the Court, and prohibit the release of new rules by President Basescu.” (Andrew MacDowall, Christian Science Monitor, July 12, 2012)
Prime Minister Ponta sugar-coated the truth with his version of events. Any other objective witness would have called his coup an attempt to bypass democratic rule of law, with the final outcome to remove the democratically-elected President. Traian Basescu may not have been the best and effective president but the Romanian people should decide his fate at the voting booth.
Romanians are ambivalent as to which brand of communism they will have to follow because they know corruption and lawlessness will rule the day. Will it be the winds of the old guard communism or the new brand of European socialism/communism? Either way, voters will be stuck between the rock and the hard place of economic austerity measures proposed by the European Union.