By Modeste Schwartz.
Romania – If I borrow the title of this article – adapting it slightly – from one of the more famous quotes of the brilliant Wallachian playwright Ion Luca Caragiale, it is because, lately, even for the most informed observer (which I do not pretend to be), Romanian politics is becoming more and more chaotic and illegible – with this opacity constituting, paradoxically, a real tradition on the Romanian political scene in times of crisis (both internal and international).
Last Saturday, in Craiova (the capital of the Oltenia region, a bastion of the ruling Social Democrat Party, and stronghold of the very popular Minister of Labour, Olguţa Vasilescu), for the first time in almost a year of low intensity Maidan maintained every weekend (excluding summer weekends) by G. Soros and Western embassies’ domesticated civil society, a counter-demonstration took place. The highlight, in this case, is not the number of participants in the demonstration (8000 – equal to that of the Maidan in the provincial towns that support it, such as Cluj: not enough for a party gathering an absolute majority of the electorate, but a lot for a first attempt), but its quite surreal character of monarchist-homage-cum-social-democratic-anti-Maidan-protest. It happens that, more or less at the time when the “hard” wing of the PSD called for counter-demonstrations, Mihai von Hohenzollern, former king of Romania (whom the monarchists still considered as such), following a prolonged illness, gave up the ghost. As he was at the same time the signatory of the decree which, on September 14, 1940, had instituted the National Legionary State (organized in accordance with the precepts of the late C. Z. Codreanu, whose anti-Semitism somewhat “frightened” Hitler), and of the arrest warrant of August 23, 1944 issued against Marshal I. Antonescu (later delivered to the Communists and shot, while Mihai was decorated by Stalin of the Order of Victory), it is quite difficult to establish exactly what political memory is commemorated by paying tribute to the deceased sovereign, who came from a family which, moreover, was (in)famous for countless stories of corruption and adultery. But it is certain that Romania does not escape the European trend of funeral-shows, and that the temptation to “highjack” the (largely televisual) emotion caused by this death was strong in both camps (certain local sections the “anti-corruption” Maidan also called – in other cities – to join the ranks of the citizens who took to the streets to pay homage to Mihai): as curious as it may seem, our Europe, obviously uninterested in its future, still has some concern for some of its deaths (provided they are rock-stars, monarchs, or deposed monarchs).
In the meantime, in the purest Romanian tradition, former Prime Minister Dacian Cioloş (called a “technocrat” – probably because he was never elected by anyone), while the “Young, Beautiful and Free” of the out-of-breath Maidan desperately cry for his return, has just betrayed the pro-Maidan parties (both the National Liberal Party of President Johannis and the USR, which is the Romanian counterpart of the French En Marche, or the Hungarian Momentum), by announcing the formation of his own party. This, after months during which he had been “tipped”, perhaps even courted, to take the lead of one of these parties (which would then automatically form an alliance with the other). In a context of erosion of the Maidan (which since its re-opening last September has never managed to reach its participation figures of last winter – themselves modest at the European level), the U-turn of this Francophile, a former European Commissioner for Agriculture, clearly takes note of the main handicap of the Maidan: the fact that its image is (and for good reason!) associated with that of the political, cultural and judicial leaders of the (anti-national) “Romanian right”, which, under the terms of T. Băsescu, had, from 2004, a whole decade to demonstrate what it was capable of to the Romanian population – who does not really want it back. Mutatis mutandis, it is – to say nothing of the Saakashvili tragicomedy unfolding in Ukraine – also the situation of the Hungarian opposition to V. Orbán, whose young alpha males would like so much (but, for mysterious reasons, never manage) to get rid of the ball-and-chain constituted, in their organizations and at their meetings, by the embarrassing presence of the very divisive former Prime Minister F. Gyurcsány and his “gang”. In reality, this inability of pro-Brussels liberal movements in central and eastern Europe (formally “right-wing” in Romania and Georgia and “left-wing” in Hungary or Poland) to be revamped is probably a direct consequence of their lack of social base, i.e. of the fact that they are more local tools of foreign and transnational powers than legitimate expressions of any local popular will.
In this game of hot potato, however, we can also be sceptical about the chances of success of the said Dacian Cioloş, in the person of whom recent indiscretions have let us discover a former member of the controversial Movement of Spiritual Integration in the Absolute (MISA), of the guru G. Bivolaru (now a fugitive in Sweden): a very influential New Age sect in Romania during the 1990s, which, under cover of yogic initiation, seems to have conjugated the spirituality of drugs with the absolute of pornography (including child- pornography). Regardless of a private life that seems to hold a few surprises, this former Eurocrat does unfortunately not have the kind of political virginity that he would need for his current ambitions: not so long ago, his brief PM mandate (imposed at the end of 2015 by Johannis and the Romanian “deep state” to a parliament then already dominated by the PSD), perceived by many as a fall back into the Băsescu era, has left in the population rather vivid memories of fierce neoliberalism and … the inability to absorb EU funds!
Given, finally, the internal dissensions which, for almost a year now, have characterized the Western camp, the recent visit of this same Dacian Cioloş to the US State Department, shortly before the announcement of the constitution of his party, obviously creates talk. As this same State Department, at the same time – and to everyone’s surprise, just after a massive purchase of Patriot missiles, which was deemed to reconcile the big transatlantic brother with the new Romanian power – showed itself decided to pursue the Romanian policy of the Obama era (destruction of the PSD and direct control of local politics through a well-tamed “anti-corruption” directorate), one can naturally be tempted to interpret this potential schism of the Romanian “right” as yet another proxy war between “Trump structures” and “US Deep State” – the latter maintaining good relations with the EU, whose creature Cioloş obviously is. In such a context, the game-changing variable is, of course, the degree of control obtained by the Trump team over the CIA (and other American structures of external “intelligence”), on which depends (this is an open secret) the Romanian deep state (i.e. the “binomial” structure made of “anti-corruption” directorate + “secret” services). Be that as it may, the PSD seems to be about to succeed in passing a law of financial transparency of NGOs (similar to that brought to force in Hungary), while its Moldavian counterpart (the party of President I. Dodon) was prevented from doing so by the fierce opposition of the pro-Western parties that dominate the parliament in Chişinău. The adoption of such laws seems to become a reliable symptom of a regime enjoying the “Trump blessing”.
Depending on the actual value of this variable, the deployment to the front line of Dacian Cioloş could therefore reflect, even more than an illusory attempt at a “facelift”, the will of G. Soros and his friends to separate their Romanian cards from those of a deep state which they fear losing control of. The ominous – and unusual – silence of K. Johannis (the main public incarnation of said deep state) in recent days tends to support this thesis. After all, this ethnic German has often repeated during his tenure that he “feels Romanian”. In terms of political traditions, the evolution of alliance games in Bucharest may soon give him the opportunity to prove it, in the same way as Mihai von Hohenzollern did in August 1944.