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Communism is alive and well in Romania's leaders

Schwartz Robert Kommentarbild App
Robert Schwartz
December 17, 2018

Just as Romania is set to take over the presidency of the Council of the EU, the government in Bucharest has shown its true colors. The Communist Party, presumed dead, is actually alive and well, writes Robert Schwartz.

Demonstrators in Bucharest protesting against ruling party chief Liviu Dragnea
Image: Getty Images/AFP/A. Catu

There is an old line that comes from the days of Romania's "Socialist realism" style of literary-ideological manipulation: "The party is in everything: in all the things that are right now and in all things the sun will smile on tomorrow!"

That sentiment, from the darkest times of Romania's communist dictatorship, is true again today — 29 years almost to the day after the fall of communism in the southeastern European country. Or rather, it remains true.

The governing party, PSD — the abbreviation actually stands for Social Democratic Party — rules in an absolutist manner and continues its attacks against the European Union and the rule of law. It sees any betrayal of the PSD as a betrayal of Romania. With this and similar nationalist and populist messages, the PSD is steering the cart — that is, Romania — back into the depths of the Ceausescu dictatorship. 

Read more: What is happening in Romania is not democracy

Ceausescu-style apparatchiks 

Party leader Liviu Dragnea, who was long ago found guilty of election fraud, and his camarilla indulge unrestrainedly in regressive and stupid slogans and couldn't care less about the damage they are doing to their country.

Romanian PSD party leader Liviu Dragnea
PSD leader Dragnea has taken to blaming the EU, foreign countries, and other alleged bogeymen for Romania's woesImage: Getty Images/AFP/D. Mihailescu

Now, just a few days before Romania takes over the presidency of the Council of the European Union, the supposedly social-liberal government in Bucharest is showing its true and deeply anti-European, inhuman colors.

Yes, populist and nationalist apparatchiks like those of the Ceausescu era still exist and want to continue to determine the fate of the country. Politicians who are either corrupt or under suspicion of corruption are pursuing only one goal: the "zero point" that is to mark their total seizure of power.

Since taking power two years ago, the ruling coalition has been desperately trying to have an amnesty and pardon law passed. Co-opting the judiciary and watering down the fight against corruption became the top priority of the puppet government of PSD leader Dragnea. He and other party colleagues are to be washed clean of all corruption allegations and convictions so that they themselves can again take high, or even highest, office.

DW's Robert Schwarz
Robert Schwarz leads DW's Romanian desk

Civil society and the liberal-conservative President Klaus Iohannis have stood shoulder to shoulder to fight these attempts again and again. And a few weeks ago, even Brussels, with considerable delay, finally voiced criticism.

And that criticism was so loud and clear that suddenly the entire anti-European energy of the post-communists was unleashed: They proclaimed that Romania was not a "second-class" country and would not allow itself to be "discriminated against" by the European Commission and the European Parliament.

They did not say a word about their own misconduct; according to the government, foreign countries, the EU, George Soros, the "parallel state" and the president are to blame instead.

Read more: Eastern brain drain threatens all of EU

The president a traitor?

Dragnea even wants Klaus Iohannis to be investigated for high treason because the president had dared to claim that the current government was not in a position to take over the presidency of the Council of the European Union.

In 2019, according to the nationalist populists, people want a kind-hearted, "Romanian" president who loves his country. With this renewed allusion to the fact that the head of state belongs to the German minority, the unrestrained slander campaign against Iohannis has reached a new climax.

Dragnea uses xenophobic resentments to distract attention from catastrophic government policies. He talks like a dictator. It is not only in Bucharest that comparisons are made with former communist ruler Ceausescu, 29 years after his ouster and execution in December 1989.

Read more: New info reavealed on downfall of Ceausescu

On January 1, 2019, Romania takes over the presidency of the Council of the European Union. A presidency that will be marked by slander campaigns, propaganda and fake news from a party that, like its communist predecessor, wants to be in everything that is and in all things the sun will smile on tomorrow. But Dragnea, like every autocrat that has ever been, forgets one crucial fact: He who laughs last usually laughs best!  Every evening, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.