Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Why Romania is screwed

We are now firmly in the endgame of the presidential election, with Victor Ponta facing Klaus Iohannis. Regular readers of this bog will have a fairly good idea as to where my sympathies lie (or in fact where my hostilities lie).

A video is circulating today showing the President of Satu Mare County Council, shouting and swearing for a lengthy period of time at various people, threatening to fire them if Ponta does not win in Satu Mare County.  This follows the first round in which - in the county- Iohannis beat Ponta by 0.6% of the vote. The County president in question is clearly a PSD man, and equally clearly irked by the disloyalty shown to him and his party by the voters (and quite possibly has himself just been at the mercy of a tongue lashing from party HQ in Bucharest).

But what is really telling about this video is not the shouting and swearing and threats. What is really telling is that the people he is bawling out are all political appointees.  A huge number of jobs in Romania are filled by people who have been awarded that job primarily through party affiliations.  Sometimes it seems nearly all civil service jobs are filled in this way.  So, the shouting president almost certainly feels that these people who are in post because of the PSD in the first place really do need to get their fingers out and drag people kicking and screaming to the ballot box this coming Sunday to get them to vote Ponta.

But, but, but.  This is Europe in 2014.  Why are so many jobs filled by party apparatchiks and the loyal card carrying members? This is not Ceausescu's Romania, this is the modern, EU member Romania.  But sadly this is still how things work. The party makes the man. OK so it;s democratic now, so there is more than one party, but it still works like this.  And the PSD is the worst offender because they effectively are the old communist party so they have all the systems and local functionaries in place already, from the village level to the city. [Here in Hargita County, it is the UDMR rather than the PSD who have this power of awarding positions to their friends]

This is the problem.  This is why this election is a scam. People will do whatever they can (including breaking the law) to get the vote out for Ponta. It is very telling that the votes for the diaspora went very much against Ponta in the first round.  Taken from the control of the system, taken from the villages where their votes are bought, cajoled, and coerced, people do not want the same old system again.  They want Romania to be more modern, less corrupt, more genuinely democratic.

I don't hold out much hope. The Ponta army will be out on Sunday and they will ensure their man wins, and then we will go back to 1990, and every positive step forward that Romania has made in the last 25 years will be shelved.  The party will again rule, and the corrupt will walk free and safe in the knowledge that their liberty to rip off the people is assured.