(Photo source) The 'lumière' hasn't exactly 'fut' in terms of the results of yesterday's referendum. Well, it has and it hasn't. The last I heard was that BEC have given their partial results: (including diaspora), which falls short of what is required (50% +1) for the referendum to be valid. participationDefinitive results will be published on Wednesday. Basescu is packingto make his return to Cotroceni whilst Victor Ponta holds on to his claim that the actual percentage was 52% (or something like that), and, as far as he is concerned, Basescu has been 'removed' and that he (Basescu) is living in a fantasy world if he thinks he has won. In addition, he (Ponta) says that CCR will have to validate the results and the decision will be respected. The struggle for power continues in this strange world of plagiarism, corruption, voting fraud extraordinaire and other delights of the Turkish variety...
A good and trusted friend wrote to me earlier saying, "people who have not had contact with communism and the Securitate cannot understand what is happening here." She is probably right. I do not pretend to have the vaguest notion of the deep and murky undercurrents running beneath this whole situation and I'm relieved that that is the case.
But what I do know is this: it is no longer a question of left or right, USL v PDL. I don't believe it ever was, on a long-term scale. It is about a country being part of a community - the European Community, within which, surprise surprise, there are rules. When those rules are broken for whichever reason, the adhesion to this community must be questioned.
As you know, I'm sure, for I have voiced it many a time, I shall be glad to see the back of Basescu - when it is done constitutionally, legally and democratically and he can be replaced by someone better. One cannot solve a big problem with an even bigger one. This whole circus of a referendum has been everything but democratic. The decision to go ahead with it was carried out, in my opinion, unconstitutionally though there are many who would disagree, and they are welcome to believe whatever they want. Throughout the process, stories of voting fraud have been more than rife (and sometimes rather funny, too) and some have even been caught on hidden cameras: patients in a psychiatric hospital who have little idea of what's going on in the outside world presumably all voted. There weren't enough ballot papers (okay,that happened in the UK too, so no bones on that one - it happens) or stamps. Priests 'advised' their 'flock' on what to vote, mayors took people's ID cards from them on the pretext of sorting them out with financial aid and benefits, company bosses told their staff that if they didn't go vote, they wouldn't have a job to go back to... On and on it goes.
I wondered how democratic it actually was for PDL to have told their supporters to stay away from the referendum, for to vote would be legitimising something that has no legitimacy. Some went to the polls and voted 'NU' anyway. The rest stayed away. I would be interested to know what the percentage was and how the outcome would have been had everyone turned out to put a cross on the ballot paper. In the long run, however, I found myself agreeing with all those who supported the boycott. It was not an abuse of democracy to my mind. It was exercising it in a refusal to play along with something that had no business taking place. The press are speaking this morning about the results of the votes: DA: 87.52% NU: 11.15%. One of Ponta's arguments (and there are many, whether wrongly or rightly) that USL have vanquished is the low number of NU... he seems to have forgotten about the boycott.
(Photo source) So, what happens now? Your guess is as good as mine. It is clear that Basescu, Ponta and Antonescu cannot work together. Both Ponta and Antonescu had already declared that should Basescu return to Cotroceni, they would resign. Ponta should have resigned anyway, if not for his evident guilt of plagiarising his thesis (now rated at 115 pages of copy/paste) then for other misdemeanours. Since both sides claim to be 'winners', well, no one seems set to find the door.
This morning, I have seen two articles whereby Iliescu is talking about democracy. How one can put Iliescu and democracy in the same sentence beats me. Just seeing his face is a sickening experience. He should really be keeping a very low profile, for personally, he is the reason, the true reason, why I feel so unable to think of USL as anything other than toxic.
There was no win in this referendum. As EP said to me earlier 'there are no winners because there were no credible players'. Even Teodor Paleologu (for whom I have very little time) hit the nail on the head: 'It is not our victory, but their infringement.'
What is clear to me is that they're going to have to grow a pair, act like grown-ups all of them, and work this out. If they do not, Romania will fall apart, and it seems to be hanging on only by a thread as it is. The leu, though a little better this morning following the end of yesterday's madness, is on its knees at 4.5558 RON/EURO. The EU is finding it harder and harder to continue to support a country that cannot exercise democracy within EU standards. Investors are nervous. They no longer trust a country now internationally seen and recognised as profoundly corrupt. If the PM can get away with something as shameful (and many Romanians can't even see a problem with it) as plagiarising his thesis, then why should anyone else have any scruples. If the Rule of Law is consistently abused, legislation altered to suit the person altering and the CCR respected only when it's convenient, then why invest in such a suspicious, risky environment. They will not.
Romania needs the EU more than the EU needs them. They need it for funding, they need it for free circulation in terms of travel. They need it for investment and business. And they need it to be respected. If things continue as they are, those who are bright, talented and show promise will keep on leaving in droves for pastures new. No one can blame them. But who and what will be left behind?
As Karl-Peter Schwartz so rightly (in my humble opinion) said in an excellent interview the other day (amongst other things), if Romania wants to leave the EU because it will not abide by the rules, then fine. Go. If she wants to return to the days of Ceasescu and live another dictatorship, 'poftiti'. That's about the long and the short of it. Being part of a community means playing by the same rules as everyone else. There are no exceptions. If one cannot, then they are no longer welcome. That's the way it is. One cannot benefit from this adhesion if one doesn't play fair.
I am glad that the referendum is as good as nul and void (although, I repeat, the definitive results from BEC will be revealed on Wednesday). But am I glad that Basescu has returned to Cotroceni? Not particularly. Glad that Ponta and Antonescu are still there? Certainly not. In fact then, nothing has changed. We are back to where we were before millions got spent on this vote that the country could not afford. In fact, no we're not. According to Charles Hawley writing for the Spiegel Online today, the situation is now actually a lot worse. This referendum has emptied the coffers yet further still and produced a horribly nasty-smelling stalemate - one where resolution seems highly unlikely any time. No winner. But losers everywhere you look and a population probably as confused and as concerned as I am (I'm referring only to those that care, of course)...
For further reading, please see also: Referendum only a battle in ongoing war for power (Charles Hawley for Spiegel Online) and Don't you dare say the D word to me (Sam R for I'm More Romanian Than You).