I haven’t been blogging for a while, but I think I’ve gathered a lot of energy (and at the moment, a lot of headache), so I’m writing. What about? What else to write about?!
About Nobody’s Land – Romania
But I won’t go on stating my view, but stating pure facts as well. Something that many journalists failed to do. But then again… the Romanian journalists weren’t even sure how many deputies voted for, how many against and how many were present upon the debate over the suspension of Traian Băsescu!
Though there’s a big ammount of excerpts in order to have a comprehensive picture, I suggest you read the full texts, by clicking on the links!
1. Băsescu – Reuters’ key facts [Full article]
* EARLY LIFE: […]
— A rank-and-file communist party member, a must for any ocean-going captain in the 1980s during the rule of former dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu, Băsescu’s only claim to fame was praise from the party newspaper in 1985 for being a good sailor.
* BECOMING MAYOR:
— After communism collapsed in 1989, he became transport minister in a centrist government, spearheading the privatisation of Romania’s vast but rusting commercial fleet.
— In 2000 he won a landslide victory against the Social Democrat Party (PSD) candidate for Bucharest mayor, Foreign Minister Mircea Geoană, with a campaign whose symbol was the red pepper — a staple of Romanian cooking and a warning to his rivals that he stings.
— Famous for trying to rid the capital of hordes of stray dogs, he dismissed angry reactions from Western animals rights activists. “I am elected by the people of Bucharest, not the dogs,” he told Reuters at the time.
* BĂSESCU AS PRESIDENT:
— Băsescu was declared winner of the 2004 presidential election runoff, snatching victory from the favourite, former President Ion Iliescu’s hand-picked protege Prime Minister Adrian Năstase.
— In 2005 Băsescu started the process of opening of Securitate records when he ordered the secret services to transfer their files to the National Council for Studying Securitate Archives. Researchers of the country’s communist-era secret police cleared the president in October 2006 of accusations he collaborated with the feared Securitate.
2. Before the grand-finale
a. Before 2004
* late December 1989 – Romanian revolution [Full Wikipedia]
The Romanian Revolution of 1989 was a week-long series of riots and fighting in late December of 1989 that overthrew the Communist regime of Nicolae Ceauşescu. The increasingly violent clashes culminated in a summary trial and the execution of Ceauşescu and his wife Elena. Romania was the only Eastern Bloc country to violently overthrow its Communist regime or to execute its leaders.
The total number of deaths in the Romanian Revolution was 1,104, of which 162 were in the protests that led to the overthrow of Nicolae Ceauşescu (16–22 December 1989) and 942 in the fighting that occurred after the seizure of power by the new political structure National Salvation Front (FSN). The number of wounded was 3,352, of which 1107 occurred while Ceauşescu was still in power and 2,245 after the National Salvation Front took power.
* May 20, 1990 – First elections/The aftermath [Full Wikipedia]
Ion Iliescu, a former member of the Communist Party leadership and a Ceausescu ally prior to falling into the dictator’s disgrace in the early 1980s, became the leader of the short-lived post-revolution National Salvation Front party. The National Salvation Front, composed mainly of former members of the second echelon of the Communist Party, immediately assumed control over the state institutions, including the main media outlets, such as the national radio and television networks. They used their control of the media in order to launch virulent propaganda-style attacks against their new political opponents, the traditional democratic parties, which re-emerged after more than 50 years of underground activity. In May 1990, partly due to the National Salvation Front’s use of the media and of the partly preserved Communist-Party infrastructure to silence the democratic opposition, Ion Iliescu became Romania’s first elected president after the revolution with a majority of 85%. These elections have been condemned as un-democratic by both Romanian traditional parties and by the western media.
The Revolution brought Romania vast attention from the outside world. Initially, much of the world’s sympathy inevitably went to the National Salvation Front government. Much of that sympathy was squandered during the Mineriad of January1990 when miners and police, responding to Iliescu’s appeals, invaded Bucharest and brutalized students and intellectuals who protested what they described as the hijacking of the Romanian revolution by former members of the communist leadership under the auspices of the National Salvation Front, in an attempt to suppress any genuine political opposition.
* 1990 – 1996 [Full Wikipedia]
During the Romanian Revolution of 1989, power was taken by a group called the National Salvation Front (FSN), which grouped a large number of former members of the communist party and Securitate (the Romanian equivalent of the KGB), but also a small number of dissidents and other participants in the uprising who genuinely thought the FSN to be an anti-communist movement. The FSN quickly assumed the mission of restoring civil order and immediately took seemingly democratic measures.[…]
Despite the efforts of the State media (entirely controlled by the FSN) to hide the pro-communist and pro-regime history of FSN members, public opinion regarded it as being a new name of the Romanian Communist Party. This triggered a series of anti-communist demonstrations in Bucharest and the resurrection of traditional parties which were once the main parties in Romania before being outlawed.[…]
Their rapidly rising popularity raised concern among FSN leaders who feared losing power and thus having to answer for the crimes committed during the Ceauşescu regime. According to some sources Ion Iliescu, leader of FSN, called the miners in to Bucharest to repress the opposition demonstrations. This incident is remembered as the Mineriad of January 1990.[…]
Less than a month after the January mineriad, another anti-Communist demonstration took place in Bucharest (February 28). Despite the demonstrators’ pleas to non-violence, several persons started throwing stones at the Government building. Riot police and army forces intervened to restore order, and on the same night, 4,000 miners rushed into Bucharest. This incident is known as the Mineriad of February 1990.[…]
In April 1990 a sit-in demonstration against the FSN began in University Square, which rapidly grew into a continuing mass demonstration, contesting the results of the recently held parliamentary elections from May 1990 as being undemocratic and accusing the FSN of being made up of former Communists and Securitate members. These demonstrations (which had been peaceful) degenerated when the police attacked hunger strikers and the Architecture Institute where students had taken refuge. Events of 13 June lead to a police bus being incinerated. This incident is believed to have been fabricated by former Securitate members in order to justify the use of force against protesters (the implication of secret service in these events has been acknowledged by the Serviciul Român de Informaţii (SRI, Romanian Intelligence Service) in an open letter to the Romanian parliament sent by SRI captain Adrian Ionescu). At Iliescu’s request, thousands of miners from the Jiu Valley descended on Bucharest, under the command of their trade union leader Miron Cozma. Using wooden clubs, axes and other make-shift weapons, the miners violently cleared University Square, savagely beating anyone who happened to cross their way in the process. After accomplishing this initial task, they shifted their attention and destructive energy towards the headquarters of the opposition parties as well as the private residences of the opposition leaders. President Iliescu publicly thanked the miners for their help with restoring the order in Bucharest. This episode is remembered as the June 1990 Mineriad.[…]
In December 1991, a new constitution was drafted and subsequently adopted, after a popular referendum. March 1992 marked the split of the FSN into two groups: the Democratic National Salvation Front (FDSN), led by Ion Iliescu and the Democrat Party (PD), led by Petre Roman.
* Traian Băsescu joined the PD faction, and in 1992, he was elected to the lower house of the Romanian Parliament
Iliescu won the presidential elections in September 1992 by a clear margin (see: Romanian election, 1992), and his FDSN won the general elections held at the same time. With parliamentary support from the nationalist National Unity Party of Romanians (PUNR), Greater Romania Party (PRM), and the ex-communist Socialist Workers’ Party (PSM), a new government was formed in November 1992 under Prime Minister Nicolae Văcăroiu, an economist and former Communist Party official. The FDSN changed its name to Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) in July 1993. The Văcăroiu government ruled in coalition with three smaller parties. This coalition dissolved before the November 1996 elections. This coincided with the bankruptcy of the Caritas pyramid scheme, a major scandal at the time in Romania.
* 1996 – 2000 [Full Wikipedia]
Emil Constantinescu of the Democrat Convention of Romania (CDR) won the second round of the 1996 presidential elections by a comfortable margin of 9% and thus replaced Iliescu as chief of state. (see: Romanian election, 1996)
PDSR won the largest number of seats in Parliament, but was unable to form a viable coalition. Constituent parties of the CDR joined the Democratic Party (PD), the National Liberal Party (PNL) and the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (UDMR) to form a centrist coalition government, holding 60% of the seats in Parliament. This coalition of sorts frequently struggled for survival, as decisions were often delayed by long periods of negotiations among the involved parties. Nevertheless, this coalition was able to implement several critical reforms. The new coalition government, under prime minister Victor Ciorbea remained in office until March 1998, when Radu Vasile (PNTCD) took over as prime minister. Former National Bank’s governor, Mugur Isărescu eventually replaced Radu Vasile as head of the government.
* 2000 – 2004 [Full Wikipedia]
The 2000 elections brought Iliescu’s PSD (Social Democratic Party) — Iliescu’s party had changed its name again, from PDSR to PSD — back to power and Iliescu himself won a third term as the country’s president. Adrian Năstase became the Prime Minister of the newly formed government. His rule was shaken by recurring allegations of corruption.[…]
* It has to be noted that the elections were a delicate moment for Romania, due to the conflicts between the center-right parties who were leading 1996-2000. Therefore, in the 2nd round, Romanians had to decide between Ion Iliescu and the extremist Corneliu Vadim Tudor, president of Greater Romania Party.
In 2003, Băsescu negotiated an electoral alliance for the PD with the National Liberal Party (PNL) in order to create a cohesive mainstream center-right political opposition against the then-ruling PSD. The new pact, named the Justice and Truth alliance (Alianţa DA), ran common candidates in local and national elections and agreed to vote as a bloc in the Parliament. As president of PD, he became co-president of the DA alliance with then PNL president Theodor Stolojan. Stolojan was later replaced as PNL president and DA co-president by Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu.
Romania joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Romania, in 2004, after 4 years of so calm waters that everybody sane knew that there’s something fishy in Denmark… the Democrat Party came in strong, taking the Liberal Party along. They formed the “Justice and Truth” Alliance – in Romanian: Alianţa “Dreptate şi Adevăr” – which was also registered witht the name “Alianţa DA” (in Romanian, DA = YES). A very strong marketing you would say, but it was simply the obvious. Almost anything else than the Social-Democrat Party was better to lead the country.
From what I remember, on TV you would only see the Social Democrat Prime Minister, Adrian Năstase, coming on the evening news communicating the “amazing” results of the Government. Likewise, the others around him were looking very proud to be there, saying almost nothing. I guess any politician would have had a lot to learn about how to speak a lot without actually saying anything.
Oh, yeah… and how could we forget the “huge” investments to build 400 gyms that had to be repaired a couple of months after completion, or even had to be demolished because of some fights with the rightful landlords? We should also not forget about the gym that has been built near the poet Lucian Blaga‘s grave!
Anyway – control, overcontrol, super-control! You could even say that this calm waters acted like a brain-washing process.
Traian Băsescu was actually the image of “let’s end this crap” (pardon my French!). He won the elections for the position of Bucharest’s Mayor just a couple of months before the presidential elections. It was easy to understand that the change was close, but were there no breadcrumbs left after 4 years of brainwashing?
Brainwashing example: the political situation/leadership is doing so well, that we are heaving the biggest economical growth ever, after the revolution. Excuse me saying this, but the politics are only meant to provide the economical freedom, but not influence economy! Later on, the year 2005 and 2006 proved to be even better for the economy, due to the trend, but not because of the political change.
Justice and Truth Alliance = Liberals + Democrats (candidate: Traian Băsescu, recently ellected Mayor of Bucharest, and Călin Popescu Tăriceanu as PM)
– the Alliance was formally registered, they have a protocol, etc.
National Union PSD+PUR = Social Democrats + Humanists [now Conservators] (candidate: Adrian Năstase, former Prime-Minister and Mircea Geoană as PM)
– the Union was only about supporting the same candidate, there was no protocol, it wasn’t formally registered, etc.
The presidential elections decided in favor of Băsescu, with 51.23%, in the second round, after nobody gained over 50% in the first one.
The Parliament elections gave this result:
Chamber of Deputies
- 36.8% (Social Democrats – 113 seats and Humanists – 19 seats)
- 31.5% (Liberals – 64 and Democrats – 48 seats)
- 13% (Greater Romania Party – the extremists)
- 6.2% (Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania)
- and 18 representatives – 1 for each minority
- 37.2% (Social Democrats and Humanists)
- 31.8% (Liberals and Democrats)
- 13.6% (Greater Romania Party)
- 6.2% (Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania)
Controversies [Full Wikipedia]
The opposition alleged fraudulent use by the PSD of “supplementary lists”, designed to help Romanians in transit to vote. Traditionally, Romanians voted with a cardboard identity card, which was stamped when they voted. Most Romanians now have laminated plastic IDs, to which a printed stamp is affixed when a person votes. However, the stamps can be easily removed.
The opposition claimed that there were organized “electoral excursions” of PSD supporters who were bussed to various towns to vote several times. This was corroborated by several teams of journalists, who followed the buses.
The Romanian opposition announced on November 30 that they were demanding a re-run of the election, because some of the void votes were allegedly awarded to the PSD. They showed evidence that some people voted more than once (they found about 750 persons in three counties, but their search of the supplementary lists would continue) and also showed that many of the minutes of the electoral committees were wrongly completed (the sum of the number of valid votes and null votes did not match the number of voters, sometimes by a difference of hundreds or thousands of votes) and the central software not only allowed these contradictory figures, but it also added these differences by default to the PSD. The opposition announced that it had started a parallel count, which showed a PSD-DA difference of only 2% between.
The government attacked the opposition by arguing that ‘rumours of fraud’ affect Romania’s economy and its external credibility.
In January 2005, the IMAS institute of statistics released an analysis of the voting results in the 16,824 precincts. In the top 1,000 precincts with the most votes on the supplementary lists, the PSD had 43% to the DA’s 23%, while in the precincts with least votes on supplementary lists, the PSD had 30% to the DA’s 34%. The same trend was true in the precincts with most void votes. It has been argued that this could not have been due to pure chance, and therefore that the alleged election fraud was real.
Therefore the situation was quite delicate. The Democrats and Liberals had a harsh task of building a coalition without the extremist party and without the Social Democrats. The other parties was considered acceptable to take into a coalition, except one – the Conservators. But then again, in order to have a majority in the Parliament, it was needed to have the Conservators in the coalition.
On December 13, the PUR president Dan Voiculescu hinted that they have more in common with the DA (both have a center-right orientation) and that they might break from the PSD, but one day later said he will remain with PSD. It has been suggested by the press that this could be result of a blackmail about his communist past. By December 25 both UDMR and PUR signed a protocol of alliance with DA (Justice and Truth), with the designated prime minister being Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu.
Traian Băsescu pushed the situation into having this coalition, though later he named this “an imoral coalition”. But for the sake of a good change, it was the only solution with the situation in the Parliament.
Therefore the Social Democrats went into the opposition, though they often accused that the president went too far, pushing a coalition against how the votes were distributed in the Parliament.
c. 2004 in less words
2000 – 2004 = Social Democrats in power, the same people that were ruling in 1990-1996. Very calm times. Too calm!
The Democrats and the Liberals go into the first step for building a strong right-wing pole. They create the Justice and Truth Alliance.
Since the Alliance was now stronger than the Social Democrat Party, they decide to form a National Union with the Humanists (a very small party), that meant nothing more, nothing less than the fact that they were supposed to support the same people for President and PM. After loosing the presidentials in the first round, the Hungarians decide to support the Social Democrat candidate, Adrian Năstase.
Traian Băsescu wins the presidentials, but the parliamentery elections show only one solution for the the right-wingers. After negotiations, both the Hungarians and the Humanists go into a coalition with the Liberals and Democrats. Both get ministers to run.
The Newly Formed Government quickly adopts a law for the Flat Tax of 16%, on the 31st of December 2004.