THE PRESENT WITHOUT THE LOSS Marius Oprea / The bag of presidents was emptied

The story of a knife in the back

I confess I was stunned at the moment. Two days before, on Friday, August 4, I was in Cotroceni where President Constantinescu had a meeting with Valeriu Stoica. He had come without being asked, just like that – in a “visit”, a visit full of promises to support a single candidate of the Democratic Convention for the presidency, after Emil Constantinescu made on July 17 the announcement that surprised everyone, that no he will run again. I was one of the few counselors who found out about her intention the night before it was made public – and I knew her intimate reasons, not her stated ones. They were closely linked to a gesture that only a statesman is capable of – that of taking major political risks and looking to grant NATO airplanes the right to bomb Yugoslavia on April 22nd. He was in total opposition to public opinion and the Romanian press, and in fact it cost the president a chance at a new term and a political career. But it was the gesture that later determined Romania’s admission to NATO.

But let me come back. At that time, Valeriu Stoica wanted to express his support for a joint candidacy of CDR, giving assurances of allegiance to it – while in the party, the “directive” to the branches was already being composed, for Stolojan’s candidacy. I did not attend that meeting, but I later learned all the details from Presidential Adviser Zoe Petre. Valeriu Stoica had been only milk and honey, so that two days later he would stick a knife in the back of the one to whom he had promised support, in the draft Convention.

Over time, the consequences of his gesture have been dramatic. In the second round of the presidential elections, Iliescu and Vadim Tudor arrived. Broken between liberals and peasants, the Convention had become a memory. The candidate Stolojan did not perform: part of his votes were taken by the candidate supported by the remnants of the right, Mugur Isărescu. We found ourselves in the absurd situation in which part of the “intelligence” in Romania demanded the presence at the vote, for Iliescu’s support … The peasants’ alliance with the Union of Right Forces, in an attempt to restore Finally a disaster: the PNTCD, crushed by pride struggles and for “positions” in government, years after the death of Lord Coposu, signed its disappearance – failing to meet the required number of votes in the 2000 elections to enter in Parliament.

I know for sure (I was there!) That the unexpected gesture of Valeriu Stoica produced, momentarily and later, a strong shock to President Emil Constantinescu. He had been nominated and elected president, at the head of a convention that, in fact, no longer existed. Above all, Mr. Constantinescu was taken by surprise by the moral content of the gesture made by Valeriu Stoica. Or rather, the lack of morality that he showed, through his visit to Cotroceni, two days before announcing the support of his own candidate. Maximum cynicism, but with benefits for the Liberals, who saved their positions in Parliament, with the “locomotive” Stolojan. Valeriu Stoica acted strictly politically. Strictly political, he was right. But he did not think like a statesman, which in the short, medium and long term, I dare say, cost a lot of political developments in Romania, where the left marched, for the next four years, with a re-elected Iliescu and dominating Parliament. What was important, however, for Mr. Stoica was only the “score” of the PNL, which he obtained. At what price?

Iohannis, a failed statesman

All the above reasons made me, for years, not look at Valeriu Stoica with good eyes. I am heartbroken when I have to admit, in the light of time, that the Liberal leader is, however, an extremely well-versed politician, strongly emphasizing the recent history of Romania, which has determined the course for a long time. Retired later in a shadow cone, which marked the winning of the PNL’s positions of strength by the democratic “allies”, who merged with the historical party, usurping it to this day, Valeriu Stoica actually played and his own career, by supporting the “Trojan horse” Stolojan, a former Securitate official and “technocrat” prime minister of a Fesenist regime, when he joined the party and was nominated as a presidential candidate. Stoica also lost, it also lost the right, “fesenized”, in fulfillment of Ion Iliescu’s dream, to have a “pluralism within the Front”.

All of the above does not prevent me from ascertaining the acuity of Valeriu Stoica’s political judgments so far. Cynical often, but correct. Recently, Stoica made a cruel and accurate diagnosis of the Iohannis regime: another ten years lost for Romanians, with an “absent” president, after “ten bad years”, the title given by Mugur Ciuvică to a book in which he analyzes the Băsescu regime – whose rise Valeriu Stoica’s gesture to put the National Liberal Party at Stolojan’s feet is in fact rooted in power.

The former Liberal leader stated in a TV show that “if Iliescu was the president of the past, if Emil Constantinescu was the one who changed the political and economic trend in Romania (…), if Traian Băsescu was the president player with a role very important in the external objectives and with a very important role in the economic policy of Romania (…), Klaus Iohannis was a great hope, but I think that the hope was formulated wrong. The Romanians, when they elected him in the first term, I don’t think they had a hope called Klaus Iohannis, they had a hope that something could be changed in Romania, that a German version would be possible. In the meantime, it has been seen that President Iohannis is not only unplayable, but is often absent. From one point of view, this absence was better than a harmful presence. But a president must not be good by his harmful absence, he must be good by his useful presence, by his beneficial presence. ”

Hopes were in vain. The “beneficial presence” was in fact a total absence. For this reason, Stoica says that Klaus Iohannis’ stay in domestic politics after his second term would be “a big mistake.” I think he’s thinking first of the Liberals.

President Iohannis was a “player” in only one way: in the way he subjugated the National Liberal Party, where he actively manipulated two congresses, in order to remove any possible rival. Not that Florin Cîţu could have been born like that, but he was sacrificed for his lack of charisma and popularity, after being used only to remove the last leader of the party from the party, the former liberal: Ludovic Orban . Although “Klaus Iohannis is a champion, the champion of using conjunctures in Romania”, Stoica considers, “it is excluded, I do not mean only what results from the past experience, but it is also excluded if I think state to mobilize, after he will no longer be president, a state of mind ”for a liberal political project.

Valeriu Stoica’s analysis is also his own failure, as a former party president. But don’t say that, of course. It is, in fact, the analysis of a difference between the statesman, such as Emil Constantinescu, and the politician, animated by current ambitions and lacking a broader vision – of the country, and not of the future of his personal position, or of his own party. Which is exactly the case with the current president, Iohannis. After all, what Mr. Stoica finds is that the “bag of presidents” has been emptied. The Liberals have no one. The right, in general, is in the same crisis of leaders as the left. In Romania over the last decade, Dragnea and Iohannis have equally eradicated any political ambitions that have arisen around them. What about “statesmen” who have long since disappeared from the local landscape? A situation in which the presidential campaign will be possible, one in which two former “marginalists”, such as Ciuca and Ciolacu (from the point of view of charisma and political and country project), will fight for the head of state, even if they are efficient administrators. Isn’t the president’s hat too big, even for both ends, in one place?

This is, unfortunately, the boomerang effect, in time, through which in the political life in Romania “born” and not made leaders were relied on. On politicians who were produced by conjunctures, not by their own qualities – as in the case of politicians, which rises to the level of a state pm. So we’re in a crisis of presidents. Romania is not a “failed state”, as Klaus Iohannis put it, with cynicism and irresponsibility. He himself is a failed statesman, at the head of a drifting republic.

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