Romania, again at a critical juncture. What can be done?
Starting today solutions need to be found. Now we know precisely the diagnosis: Dragnea and Tariceanu pass laws for themselves, destroy institutions in their personal interest and jeopardize Romania’s strategic partnerships, the relationship with EU and the United States. Pragmatically speaking, it is of no use asking ourselves how we got here, who is to blame or to express our outrage. The only question that now matters is if and how can the “Orbanization” of Romania be avoided, the transformation of the country in the trial site for big and small criminals.
The amendments to the Criminal Codes PSD filed yesterday in the Iordache commission are more devastating to the state than GEO 13. Besides these, there are the new homeland security laws, the attack on private pensions, the attack on all institutions that have remained independent. Liviu Dragnea ordered the final attack on justice and PSD executes it. Some possible solutions:
- The most effective lever remains the external pressure. One of the mechanisms that European Commission is considering implementing to sanction states breaching the rule of law is to link European funds to respecting EU values, including the independence of the judiciary. If there is support for the idea, the Commission would present this mechanism on May 2nd. Given the regional outlook, not just Romania, the Commission can no longer afford to allow brutal attacks – as is the case in Romania – on the essence of democracy.
- Romania is a member of the EU and NATO and we have a strategic partnership with the United States. It would be completely ridiculous for the Western world, for these great powers, for Romania to collapse before their eyes. Against the background of the current confrontations between the West and Russia, the failure of the democratic model in Romania and not only would represent a symbolic defeat hard to manage in the long run.
- President Klaus Iohannis has real power, not just formal power. The word is the strongest weapon; however, he uses it extremely rare and sometimes unconvincing. It is time to go public and expose the danger an abusive power exposes an entire country. Let us not forget that he can use Parliament’s platform to convey messages or even chair Government meetings if he wants to give weight to his message. He has at least this duty as head of state.
- President Iohannis, let’s not forget, has also a silver bullet: the referendum. He should consider whether if it’s the time to use it. If he does after the war has been lost, it would be in vain. In the meantime, PSD does not hesitate to engage in rallies supporting traditional family, threaten to amend the homeland security laws, to do everything to change the state architecture. The response should match the magnitude of the assault.
- Some magistrates’ associations have consistently suggested the President takes a step further on the justice laws, namely to bring the matter to the Venice Commission. The same applies to the proposed amendments to the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code. Any action to alert European bodies is more than nothing, even if they can only convey recommendations, as happened with the GRECO report, but these institutional positions are essential to draw international attention to Romania.
- The opposition needs to quickly wake up from their sleep. They have a wide range of tools to draw attention to the danger: from a vote of no confidence and press conferences tirelessly explaining the devastating effects of the proposed amendments to the Criminal Codes, to real political opposition actions, rallies and street protests. The idea of a great rally to be exploited by the power in these difficult moments is completely absurd, rather than the opposition speaking about mobilizing people to take the streets.
- The Magistrates’ Associations, the body of judges and prosecutors, have already proven themselves to be a strong voice that matters in the dynamics of parliamentary debates. Again, they need to be involved in the public debate.
- Finally, the street. Let’s recall that GEO 13 was halted in the winter of last year thanks to a mobilization unprecedented since 1989. It is true that now there is no sense of urgency, nothing seems imminent, but it is a false perception. The proposed amendments to the Criminal Codes need to be annihilated from inception. Otherwise, will be voted by Parliament exactly as the laws of justice, pass the Constitutional Court and unavoidably reach promulgation, in which case the President will not have much leeway.
It should be pointed out every time that if changes are passed by Parliament and enter into force for even one minute, the damage cannot be repaired anymore! In criminal law, the principle of the more favorable law applies. All corrupt officials would get rid of investigations, even if the next Parliament corrects the legislation now destroyed by PSD.
A protest organized by “Corruption Kills”, “Resistance” and “Initiative of Romania” is announced for May 12th. This should be just the beginning of strong opposing protests. Surely fatigue has settled after so many street protests treated with defiance and contempt by the power, but notice that the others never get tired.
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