OPINIONSThe politics of small steps

George Marinescu
English Section / 23 februarie

The politics of small steps

Versiunea în limba română

The merging of local elections with European parliamentary elections announced with great fanfare by the leaders of the PSD-PNL governing coalition, Marcel Ciolacu and Nicolae Ciucă, represents nothing more than a new policy model of small steps or something like that.


Because when we talk about a political ostrich-camel, made up of the union of a right-wing party with a left-wing one, its product will also be an ostrich-camel, because - in the words of Nicolae Filimon -, "what is born of a cat, mice eat".

The PSD-PNL coalition met three times in the last month in order to issue an ostrich-camel: combined elections, but in the local elections each goes its separate way, while in the European Parliament the liberals and the social democrats will share the common list. With which they hope to take 51% of the voters' votes and thus send 17 or 18 people to the European Parliament.

Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu motivated the merger as follows: "The highest turnout in elections is in local elections. The fact that we decided on the merger is not against democracy, on the contrary, it is an extra vote for democracy and for a fair representation in front of the Romanians. I also proposed an electoral alliance for the European Parliament elections. It is obvious that only the two big parties can unite and face the extremist wave".

Following the ruling coalition's decision, the simple voter will be in front of the lists for the local and the joint list for the European Parliament. The hard core of PSD voters will look for the logo with the three roses on all the lists and will be upset to see it next to the liberal arrow on the common list for the European Parliament elections. He'll probably rub his eyes twice and check the local ballots to see if he voted with the party he wanted. Because otherwise those with the weakest intellect will probably ask themselves like Caragiale's tormented voter: "Who am I voting with?".

That's right: the hard core of the Liberals who are they voting with? Because following the announcement of the joint list for the European Parliament, some leaders with old states in the PNL declared that they can never ally with PSD in the elections, on joint lists. That they prefer to follow the liberal principle "through us, ourselves!".

However, that principle proved weak in the face of the tactical move decided by Nicolae Ciucă with the blessing of the temporary occupant of the president's chair at the Cotroceni Palace.

Nicolae Ciucă reinterpreted the expression "by ourselves": "Sometimes tactical moves are needed. What has happened now is a tactical move, given what is happening around us in terms of security. The explanation is that through ourselves we can ask the Romanians to give us their trust for what we will do next".

The proof that the decision of the PSD-PNL coalition was blessed by Cotroceni is represented by the very statement of the social-democratic president Marcel Ciolacu, who stated: "I would be proud, as a Romanian, for the president of Romania to occupy a political position at a large European level. In this alliance, I am firmly convinced that both of us, together with the MEPs, will negotiate a position as important as possible for the Romanian commissioner and for important positions in the European Parliament. Romanians want a strong, Romanian voice in European structures".

However, the prime minister left Nicolae Ciucă offside when he announced that the presidential elections will be brought forward and will take place in September, the decision for the September presidential elections being taken by the PNL president without the consent of the other party leaders.

Nicolae Ciucă specified: "We did not discuss this topic in the National Political Bureau of the PNL. So we don't have a joint decision in the coalition. I will return to this topic in PNL. There is no problem to return to BPN on this topic. I discussed with the Prime Minister, after we discuss all the stages, when it will be necessary to issue an OUG or a HG regarding the election calendar, we will make a decision".

Despite Ciucă's statement that there is no joint decision of the PSD-PNL coalition to advance the presidential elections, Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu pointed out: "We discussed this topic in the coalition. We decided this within the coalition. We have three options: 1-15 September 8-22 or the end of the month. September 8-22 would be the most suitable. (...) I announced that today (ed. - Wednesday) I am going out with the entire calendar; the calendar was discussed in the coalition. When they decide the timing, they enact all the necessary legislation for all three rounds of elections. Respective merger, presidential in September and general in December (ed. - December 8)".

From the statements above it appears that Nicolae Ciucă would have personally established with Marcel Ciolacu that the presidential elections be brought forward, without consulting his PNL colleagues. Ciucă could have done this alone, if he had been a strong politician or a good negotiator like Ludovic Orban, Crin Antonescu or Călin Popescu Tăriceanu once he was prime minister of the Justice and Truth Alliance (DA). As the current president of the PNL is not such a politician, it seems that the negotiation with Marcel Ciolacu regarding the advancement of the presidential elections was done with the approval of the president Klaus Iohannis, in front of whom the majority of the PNL leaders do not have any contrary position, practically recognizing him, tacitly, as the real head of the party.

So Ciucă's prank regarding the PNL's non-approval of the September presidential calendar was more of a facade, for his colleagues whom Marcel Ciolacu's announcement practically put in front of the fait accompli. Now the liberal leaders have been informed, can consider themselves informed and will approve the new electoral calendar, including the presidential one in September.