Monday, November 23, 2009

The morning after...

As predicted below, the Presidential run off in Romania will be between (incumbent) Traian Basescu and Mircea Geoana of the PSD. So basically that means more of the same for Romania. Let's be honest here, electing a president from the PSD will not represent a huge change for Romania given that they've been in power for the vast majority of the time since 1989 (and before that too, since the PSD is essentially the rebranded Communist party).

One thing that is noticeable in the foreign press's coverage of this election is the insistence on calling Geoana/the PSD "left leaning" or "leftist". This is, to put it mildly, utter bollocks. The PSD are "leftist" in as much as they are made up of the old Communist party, but in any actual policy or ideas or ideology or approaches are a right wing party (with a populist streak thrown in) - to give an example, they are vehemently anti-minority, which is hardly a "leftist" position to take. Even the economic policies they espouse are basically right wing ones. So if you see a report that refers to them as "leftist" I suggest you flick v-signs at the TV or radio or newspaper which is parroting this utterly false line.

In any sane society the PSD and its apparatchiks would have vanished long ago. Corrupt, power-crazed, with a mafia-like grip over many communities. But it is just that apparatus left over from when they were all Ceausescu's mates (before they saw which way the wind was blowing and staged an internal coup under the guise of a national revolution), which has left them so strong. Many parts of the country are still very much under the grip of the local PSD office, through which all power, money and influence flows. Hence getting rid of them is incredibly difficult. Floating over this whole structure is the shadowy vampiric figure of Ion Iliescu, Ceausescu's one-time heir apparent who had fallen out of favour with the dictator, but who came back to lead the so-called revolution and subsequently occupy the Presidency for 11 of the 20 years since then. Geoana paints himself as a reformer of the PSD, but nobody really believes much has changed.

Over the last couple of days I had started to hope that maybe. just maybe, Crin Antonescu of the PNL would get enough votes to enter the second round which would at least have left people with a real possibility of something new. It was not to be however, and the PSD obviously did a good job of getting out their vote (their heartland seems to be in the rural counties of the south, most of which got higher than average turnout). There were also many cases of reported fraud, with some people being bussed from place to place to vote more than once, some dead people voting, and other cases of votes being bought.

The one positive that comes from this election is that the turnout was much higher than expected - dire predictions of 20-30% turnout were suggested but in the end the count was over 50%. Not exactly massive, but at least reasonable (and we can assume that the vast majority of these people only voted once and were actually alive and stuff). This in a country that is in such an incredible mess that, for example, my daughter will have a three day holiday from school this and next week because the government is forcing all public sector employees (including teachers) to take 10 days unpaid holiday this year to save money. When even the education of the next generation is being sacrificed by politicians, you know things are bad.

Now the horse trading begins, with both remaining candidates trying to pick up the votes that went to the others. Logically Antonescu's 20% ought to go to Basescu as those two candidates occupy similar ground politically, but with Basescu screwing the PNL over a fair few times in the recent past, there may be a doubt there. The far-right nationalist vote of Vadim Tudor and Becali (about 6% between them) will presumably go to Geoana. The Hungarians will vote (those who bother to show up) for Basescu, because while they have found him untrustworthy and that he's done absolutely nothing for the Hungarian minority in his 5 years in power, he's also not enacted policies that are specifically anti-Hungarian, while the assumption is that Geoana would. Basescu's real problem is that he's become quite a divisive figure, and it could be that those who will vote for him, already have, and those that haven't, won't.

I hope it goes to Basescu, but only on the basis that he's better than the alternative, not because I have any faith in his abilities. We now have two weeks of being reminded how bankrupt the country not only financially but also politically.


Anonymous said...

Actually, Băsescu's PDL is just as much a continuator of the Communist Party as the PSD, as they both are wings of the old FSN (National Salvation Front).

Anonymous said...

What nobody understand is the fact that due to Basescu we are all in Europe and we can travel without visa.He is not a saint but,Iliescu and his team did Not want us in EU.
Remebered fellows romanian the times when we need visa ,even for travel to Hungary?Those times can come back if we will vote for Geoana. Unfortunatelly ,romanians are easy bored generally speaking and might make the mistake to choose Geoana ,just because they fed up with Basescu...Wrong!Basescu must go ON!

Anonymous said...

It's an absolute nonsense to claim that we are in the European Union due to Băsescu.

The process for joining the EU began in 1995 and it was based on objective facts and criteria, it wasn't something that was done because Berlusconi and Chirac liked Băsescu's dirty jokes.

Also, it's impossible to bring visas back, because such a change would require an unanimous vote from the member countries. Kicking out Romania also requires the unanimous vote of the other countries, and the other Eastern European countries would never accept such a thing. As such, that would be possible only with the disbanding of the whole European Union.

This kind of absurd claims has been the idea behind the whole campaign of Băsescu. He kept babbling nonsense about how the "Press Moghuls", the "Jukebox Journalists" and the unpatriotic Corrupt Parliamentarians are conspiring against him and therefore, against the people.

PS. I'm not a sympathiser of either PSD or PNL, I voted for Remus Cernea.


Gadjo Dilo said...

Thanks again for your analysis, Andy (and Messrs Anonymous). I can only agree that Băsescu is probably slightly better than the alternative, though I hear that Geoana is making much of saying that he'll get the successful, popular (except with Băsescu) and "German" mayor of Sibiu in as Prime Minister, which I reckon is a clever move and may persuade people that he'll be a more positive and less divisive president.

Andy H said...

Thanks all.

Anon1 - I didn't know that. Do the PDL have access to the old network that the PSD seem to have?

Anon2 - like Bogdan, I completely disagree here. Basescu was in power when Romania joined the EU, that's all. It's pretty clear (esp w hindsight) that the EU was not going to reject Romania's or Bulgaria's membership because of corruption (otherwise they would have done it, it's not like corruption ever got much lower)

Bogdan - Another Remus Cernea voter (well, I would have been, had I been able to). Fantastic.

GD - yes it seems Geoana is sticking with a Johannis government and this alone has encouraged Antonescu to back him in the second round. Things are looking bad for Basescu

(PS sorry all for lack of accents, I'm just too lazy to mess about with charmap)