2007-02-23 Iulian Muresan
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Political Tension in Romania

Traian Basescu driving drunkTraian Basescu driving drunk
The Romanian political scene is very tense... With EU membership in its pocket and with pressure from Brussels subsiding, Romania is at a critical moment. The good steps taken so far in giving independence to the judiciary and combating corruption are no longer popular measures among the majority of Romania's politicians.

Much has happened in the last few weeks on the Romanian political scene. The ruling coalition made up of the National Liberal Party and the Democratic Party, which won the elections in 2004, no longer works. Liberal Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu is at open war with the president of Romania, Traian Basescu. Things seem to be spiralling out of control. The president, who is the most popular politician in Romania is the subject of an impeachment procedure supported by the opposition and his former liberal allies. One of the best foreign ministers Romania has ever had, Mihai Razvan Ungureanu fell victim to the conflict between the Prime Minister and the president. The Romanians watch the circus helplessly.

"On behalf of the government, as Prime Minister, I feel bound to say that Romania has priorities resulting from our EU membership and we have to fulfil our obligations. Our interest is to fully benefit from EU membership, but all this while we have been drawn into political games, which are useless to the citizens."

The president of Romania, Traian BasescuThe president of Romania, Traian Basescu
Such a statement by Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu does very little for Romania's post-accession strategy, which is gracefully non-existent. The main preoccupation for Romanian politicians is now to better position themselves to get hold of European money. President Traian Basescu has repeatedly warned against this:

"There is the possibility that only a few people will benefit from Romania's EU integration. The economic figures like the GDP and the growth rate may look good, but the result may be an extreme polarisation of the Romanian society between the very few rich who will continue to take advantage of EU integration and the poor majority who will continue to be poor."

In late December 2006, president Basescu appeared before Parliament and condemned communism. The statement acted like a religious exorcism. The reaction was so violent that the only conclusion would be that that there are still plenty of communists in Romania's parliament. Then the president accused politicians of passing legislation for criminal groups of interests around them. The result? The entire political class with the exception of the Democratic Party rallied to impeach the president.

Traian Basescu drinkingTraian Basescu drinking
"Surely, there is nervousness among our politicians, because calling the prosecutor on the phone no longer works. In the last two years, the former and present local barons, ministers, parliamentarians, local councillors have started answering before the law. I would say that justice has started working, which creates a great discomfort to those who have entered politics only to get rich."

Justice has given very faint signals that it's started working and all that thanks to the efforts made by Minister of Justice Monica Macovei to reform the judiciary and combat corruption. We can say we owe EU membership to her. But now many feel threatened that so that the opposition tabled a simple motion against her, which passed the Senate. She's under a lot of pressure, and she's pretty much alone in her fight. It's clear that the Romanians want to move forward, but the majority of the Romanian political class are defying a whole nation, preoccupied exclusively by their own interests. The people are not disappointed, they are angry.

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