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A Fortaleza Robin Hood, playing at sovereignty Viktor Orban style

A Fortaleza Robin Hood, playing at sovereignty Viktor Orban style

Romania first and social justice at all costs! This was Liviu Dragnea’s intended message in his Sunday-evening speech, designed especially as a programmatic discourse that would lead Romania on the sovereign tides of Trump, Orban or Le Pen. The result, however, was a questionable stand-up comedy act, rife with pathetic attempts at capturing the audience’s goodwill, and featuring thinly veiled threats directed against the prime minister and her ministers. Of special note was the weak and anaemic reaction the “active” PSD core, aware of the straw-man leading it.

However, the discourse should not be underestimated. On the contrary. Caricatural as they were, if the lines promoted by Dragnea were to be put into practice by an obedient government, T0 would represent a total break with European values and a return to pre-1989 rudimentary, self-sufficient nationalism.

Liviu Dragnea’s speech perfectly resembles Viktor Orban’s profession of faith of 2010, when he won the elections after Opposition’s two terms in office. The same obsession with foreign capital, seen as responsible for the country’s poor economic situation, and especially for the impossibility of putting into practice a populist and corrupt economic plan.

Orban was instantly successful because he had a clean past and emerged after an economic crisis that highlighted the mistakes of foreign capital. The population wanted social justice, so Orban’s immediate attacks on the IMF, the World Bank and the multinationals found fertile ground. The over-taxation of foreign retail, banking, energy and telecom companies immediately found support amongst he population. There followed the nationalizations, then the changes in the legislation in the media, in the electoral system, in the judiciary. Eight years later, Hungary is a permanently crippled democracy, closer in spirit to the systems of Russia or Belarus, than those of the European Union.

Why is Liviu Dragnea ridiculous in his aspiration to instill the same dynamics in Romania? Because the great change of the societal paradigm comes from a proven counterfeiter, a criminal convicted for electoral fraud, a character at the top of a pyramid system of corruption and qualified theft. Some of the pro-corruption discourse financiers are even party colleagues, others are big businesspeople with connections in the corrupt area of secret services.

But this discourse cannot be credible. Putting aside populist attacks on multinationals and on foreign capital, one finds behind it the pitiful howl of a man who is afraid of jail. Amnesty and pardon which he both begs for and commands, are his only real targets.

No one buys into his tired discourse about the parallel state that has presumably made thousands of innocent victims. Nastase, Fenechiu, Voiculescu, Udrea, Bica, Sova, Voicu, Mazare, and, “last on the list, respectfully”, Dragnea – no one feels for them, no one sees them as innocent lambs. We are talking about individuals corrupted to the bone, thieves who have defrauded huge budgets or elections, people who have stolen Romanians’ chance to a to a decent life.

That’s how Dragnea came to the speech about sovereignty. He threatened foreign capital with over taxation, accused it of keeping Romania underdeveloped. He accused European politicians of wanting to turn Romania into a consumer market. He threatened to take from the rich aliens and give to the poor Romanians. Some kind of Robin Hood, but an unbelievable one, himself suspected of being a multi-millionaire who took the money out of Romania and stashing it abroad. A parody of parody, a Robin Hood who goes on holidays in Fortaleza, not in Sovata.

He accused the EU of turning Romania into a second-hand country. Dragnea threatened, in the subtext, with breaking European rules and turning Romania into an illiberal democracy, where national legislation is prioritized above the EU acquis. Just what Orban does, exactly what the Brexiters want, exactly what Salvini wants in Italy, or Le Pen in France.

But his “people”, his PSD, betrayed him. Their reaction was anemic, because they know that if Romania takes this path, they can bid their privileges farewell. They can say goodbye to the European funds so beloved by Plumb, Ghiţă & co (the Commission has proposed a mechanism conditioning the availability and accessibility of funds on the rule of law), they can bid adieu to the good-will of the European Parliament and the Community institutions. Many of the PSD members know that without European money, Romania will flounder in a year. And they do not want to take the risk.

But there is also the hard wing of dinosaurs, of the Oprisan type. The perfect exponent of the vile baron, Oprisan was the one who gave today an opening to Dragnea’s speech. It was a badly directed moment, observable from as far as Brazil. Or from a yacht parked in Bulgaria.

This moment was spoiled, however, by Viorica Dăncilă, who in a 15-minute speech did not say a word about justice, the parallel state, or amnesty and pardon. Dăncilă is the only individual who can deliver the saving Emergency Decree.

Until now, Dragnea struggled with Dăncilă’s refusal, strongly supported by Paul Stănescu and her husband. Dragnea managed to isolate Stanescu. Dăncilă remained alone to hold the fort and no one quite knows for just how long.

But the anti-EU and anti-foreign violence discourse is the last thing that Dăncilă needed before taking over the rotating presidency of the EU Council. Dragnea made her vulnerable and I am willing to bet he did so purposefully. He just wants to drag her down with him.

Dragnea’s populist climax was the attack on foreigners, allegedly killing Romanians with poisoned food. This was too much even from the monster who used the Colectiv tragedy for his political scheming. For anyone who was seduced, this is the signal that the head of the PSD has gone too far.

The coming weeks are critical, during which only the party’s reaction and Viorica Dăncilă’s attitude can stop a political catastrophe. If the government adopts the Emergency Ordinance for amnesty and pardon, if the persecution of foreign capital begins, Romania enters uncharted waters.

PS: As for foreign capital errors, they are text book cases. As everywhere else in the world, multinationals use any legal means and any breach in legislation to take advantage of their profit immorally (read tax optimization). Nothing prevents the government from discussing with numbers and laws on the table the right solutions for everyone, solutions that prevent profit evaporation and preserve foreign capital in the country. But I’m afraid Dragnea is not doing that, morality is his last concern.

Traducerea: Ruxandra Stoicescu

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