Alina Mungiu-Pippidi

Ten takeaways from 2016’s parliamentary elections

  1. It will be a plus if there will be no constitutional crisis and a clear majority resulting from the electoral process and not from constitutional manipulations as we experienced under  Traian Basescu. The people who expect the President to overrule the elections’ result by clustering small parties together, potentially also with a new Union for Romania’s Progress (UNPR) type of entity consisting of easy to manipulate politicians recruited by intelligence agents are kidding themselves. The creation of a new UNPR would only set us back. Of course, it’s sad that after the elections of 1996, 2004 and 2014, when we managed to win our country back through heroic campaigns (that  ended with me being summoned to court dozens of times) that other people chose to go the other way around this time. Nevertheless, the voter is always right. No person deserves to be blamed for how she voted or if she chose not to vote.
  2. Another positive is that Ghita, Ninel Peia and Marian Munteanu did not enter Parliament, and that there actually there is no anti-system party. Of course there are other people who think just like them, but this should be a lesson for all, that radical rhetoric is not popular, and those who often chose the path of provocation and distress will rapidly find themselves empty-handed.
  3. The real blame should go to those that essentially took away the right to vote for a great number of people by changing the electoral law. The technocratic government carried on with its paper shredding committee and other attempts to reduce bureaucracy without thinking about what we wrote on the Clean Romania website, an aspect that we also forwarded to the Presidency: over a million people live in cities where they don’t officially reside, and that the paperwork needed to change your ID information is excessive. The “special lists” for people voting outside their hometown or home-county have essentially disappeared, and so did a considerable number of people who would normally vote. The situation was similar for Romanians living abroad, where all 4 million of us could only chose from the 6 people who ran for the diaspora’s Parliament seats, and only those of us with residency papers, with  houses and jobs (like me) could actually vote. People like us are a minority among the diaspora, when the decision was taken to essentially eliminate the majority since only those with a residency permit could
  4. It’s good that the Save Romania Union (USR) entered Parliament, but they only took votes away from the PNL, just as I predicted when the Ciolos project came out. I wrote back then that I doubt any former Securitate agent who came up with that plan would actually be a good electoral strategist. Yes, it’s difficult to both praise and criticize the system, you can’t really build a 50% alliance this way. You can’t even build a 30% alliance, with an electoral score that is historically bad for the Liberal Party (PNL), plus the Liberal Democratic Party (PDL), plus theUSR’s votes taken together. Actually, the same thing happened last time, with the Truth and Justice Alliance (ADR) alliance, when I said that the Civic Force, together with New Republic party and the PDL would get fewer votes together than the PDL itself.
  5. Nicusor Dan is wrong when he says this is the first time a party that emanated from the civil society enters Parliament unaided, through its own capabilities. This happened before with the Civic Alliance Party (PAC) and the Dan Diaconescu’s People’s Party (PP-DD), parties that don’t exist anymore today.
  6. The real gain here is represented by a few USR members who entered Parliament. Dan Barna in an economy committee, Mihai Gotiu in an environment one, Catalin Drula keeping an eye on the government’s infrastructure projects – these are all far better qualified people than any names the PNL proposed, even if they entered Parliament. However, for these people to be there, a compromise with the system was needed, and now it’s up to them to prove that they can be independent despite receiving help during the campaign from the wrong people. It’s up to them to pull the USR out of spheres of influence it doesn’t belong to.
  7. Klaus Iohannis’ approval rating dropped from 70% in January 2015 to around 20% now, at a similar level to the PNL’s electoral score, and the future for his mandate is becoming cloudy. Even though I don’t think he tried to use the USR to destroy the PNL – what we’ve seen in this campaign looked more like an attempt to take the USR away from civil society after the local elections, through technocracy and the relevant intelligence services – it’s still enough to ruin the majority we built with risks in 2014. Of course, voters are not constant and their expectations were too high, this wasn’t a cheap trick from Iohannis. The price for a job well done will be paid by others, it won’t be the President who resigns.
  8. Whoever is incompetent must go. I’ve been telling the PNL since 1999 that we need a preferential voting system which would allow voters to rank candidates accordingly. Ponta and Hunor were against the proposal last time, the PNL also chose not to support the project. The PNL would have had 35% today and there would be no USR if they simply added the USR candidates at the end of their list. The voters would have taken care of the problem in a ranked voting system, and party reform would have been dealt with.
  9. As I predicted, the technocrats, whom benefitted from my full support from their very first project onwards, even more than some know, will be split in two categories. The good ones such as Cristina Palmer, Dragos Tudorache or Raluca Pruna already have jobs at the UN and EU. Those who are undercover agents will be recovered and reassigned, I’m sure. Some already set up rents for themselves in three months while in government.
  10. Civil society was the target in these elections, from the anti-Soros campaign, to the integrity black lists made by my former chauffeur that were meant to misinform and were gleefully spread among the ex-Securitate backed press (it didn’t work). I showed up only at one TV show, and I attracted as much hate and insults as if I were there among them. Nevertheless, civil society still stands and it must continue to grow. Tomorrow we might have to call on you to show up and defend the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA), or the anticorruption laws, I’m curious if you’ll be just as active then as you were on Facebook during this campaign, when you so forcefully avoided reality.


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