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SWOT analysis ahead of the local elections
Cristian BANUWhere do political parties stand, and what chances does each of them have to win as many local administration seats?
Our analysis indicates that the National Liberal Party (PNL) fares best, as it is the only party without internal disputes and clashes between local branches. The Democratic-Liberal Party (PD-L) is torn by many internal conflicts at a local level, which confirms what I predicted in “Cadran Politic” several months ago, and it is yet to figure out how to handle a predictable electoral failure in Bucharest (the absence of a strategy for the electoral defeat scenario is the only reason why the party hasn’t announced its candidate yet, although he has been known to everyone for three months now). The Social Democratic Party (PSD) must struggle with Marian Vanghelie’s desperate attempts to salvage his political career at the expense of the party.
Although PNL only stands at some 20 per cent in polls in Bucharest, it is the only party to have announced a serious candidate, with sound administrative experience as a vice-mayor and also with a leading position in his own party. All these put Orban in pole-position for the City Hall, and his prospective victory may radically change the political configuration ahead of the parliamentary election.
After having used up most of the serious themes, PD-L brings a number of outmoded ideas to this campaign. They rely on the vilification of the PSD-PNL relationship, but Theodor Stolojan is hardly in a position to criticise Ion Iliescu: years ago, Stolojan was a member of the committee lobbying for Iliescu’s presidential bid, with Valeriu Stoica backing an alliance with PSD in 2000. Promoting Elena Băsescu, in an embarrassing move, was an epic self-goal for PD-L, and the current leadership line-up makes the “Let’s-clean-things-up” slogan sound rather mocking.
The fact that they are not in power and don’t have very powerful local leaders makes them the main losers in the election of county council chairpersons in the uninominal system. PSD has its local barons, PNL boasts prefects or ministers who have gained local visibility and sway. In theory, their primacy in opinion polls means they are the most likely to win elections held in one round. But only if the respective election was a party-list one. The best example is Bucharest itself: although in opinion polls they stand at close to 40%, they only have sound chances to win in District 3, where Negoiță did a good job. As for the rest, the City Hall included, they run the risk of failing to make it into the runoff. The uninominal election of county council chairmen means that the candidate will be important as well, not only the party.
For PD-L the main issue is how to disguise the failure in Bucharest. Since they haven’t come up with a solution, the delay of the official nomination tends to indicate fear, uncertainty, things that herald nothing good for a party regarded as the most powerful.
Last, this is a major handicap for PD-L, which enters the race as the unquestionable favourite, and this induces major expectations among voters. Any score below 35% will be perceived as a disaster and would deepen the nascent chaos affecting the Democratic Party and Traian Băsescu.
PD-L also faces serious internal issues, with local branches torn by severe internal disputes; the most recent scandal was reported in Buzău, but there are similar problems in Constanța or Timișoara.
A closer look at recent statements by the main party leaders reveals that they massively insist on the idea that PD-L will take power after the parliamentary election, as Traian Băsescu pledges to nominate a PD prime-minister. Their calculations are OK if PD-L wins by 40%; but it only stands at 35% in friendly polls and around 31% in the competitors’ polls. The combined score of PNL and PSD, on the rise, is already several percentage points over the Democrats’, and with UDMR as well it reaches 50% without redistribution.
Naturally, the idea that Stolojan may govern just fine on 40%, after Tăriceanu did so on only 20% seems logical and fair. But the question is, for how long can Stolojan govern with 40% approval rates? The answer is, “a few months, at best, until the presidential election.” With Traian Băsescu no longer a president, the Stolojan Cabinet will be removed without hesitation, and replaced by one backed by a “parliamentary majority”. But this will not happen. Traian Băsescu will not appoint a PD premier unless he has parliamentary majority (which he won’t).
He will not do it because, cheeky as Băsescu may be, he cannot afford to once again overlook the will of the electorate, especially after the disastrous results the first time he did so. Take a look at Adrian Năstase’s statements (in “Jurnalul național” or on his blog) and you will see that, as of recently, one idea has been recurrent: “Traian Băsescu rigged the 2004 election.” By the time of the presidential election, this idea will have gained substantial ground. What can Traian Băsescu answer to such accusations in the electoral campaign?
Traian Băsescu’s electoral campaign will very likely rely on the idea that “the PNL-PSD coalition needs a watchdog to keep it from stealing everything.” With such an idea, he would stand some chances of re-election. Although I doubt it. People will tend to prefer a neutral president, like Emil Costantinescu, who also has the major advantage that he is only entitled to one more term in office, and as such is free from the “re-election” pressure. Five years of unremitting scandals have drained the electorate.
- l It still benefits from Traian Băsescu’s support;
- l The party has a number of electoral strongholds where winning will be easy;
- l Traian Băsescu is on a downward trend;
- l Losing Bucharest will dramatically impact the party image;
- l It is unable to outdo the 35% voting intention rate, which means a maximum 30% election score;
- l Ever louder internal clashes (Bucharest, Buzău, Constanța, Timiș…), which may spiral in the wake of poor electoral results;
- l Political isolation;
- l Lack of credible leaders – it is virtually the only political party without one promising leader, except perhaps for the District 3 Mayor, but his skills go hardly beyond the district borders.
- l The support Traian Băsescu will provide during the campaign;
- l The fact that it is not in power and has no chances to get there may impede upon its electoral success;
- l Political isolation keeps it away from possible negotiations, which may entail a score much below its maximum potential;
- l Much of its electorate is socially inactive; they are only attracted by the “vigilante” rhetoric, with nationalist hues, and as such they only vote in opinion polls;
- l Internal clashes may undercut the mobilisation of activists.
Recent opinion polls put PSD at 25-28% in Bucharest, which means that the party is even higher at a national level. Unfortunately, PSD is divided over the City Hall candidate, which may lead to a poor score. But on the other hand, this may not affect the party, since Mircea Geoană is already viewed as an interim leader; after Adrian Năstase’s return to the forefront, Geoană’s departure is only a matter of days.
The PSD upturn after Adrian Năstase’s comeback may be linked, among others, to Romanians’ need for an authoritarian leader (Vlad the Impaler still stands for good governance practice) – and apart from corruption accusations, Adrian Năstase was the absolute chief and he remains a model of administrative efficiency. After all, if Nicolae Ceaușescu is regretted, why wouldn’t Adrian Năstase be as well? But we are yet to see whether the former Premier has learned his lesson.
PSD is also at an advantage because the first elections are the locals ones, and they have a good administrative apparatus and sound local stature.
- l The local elections are scheduled first, and PSD may rely on its local barons; chances are it will carry around 30% of the votes, which would radically change the balance of power ahead of the ensuing parliamentary election;
- l A good party management apparatus, which allows for good electoral mobilisation.
- l The negative image (but then again, at a time when the mass media tarnish all politicians, this is not necessarily a problem);
- l Shortage of funds;
- l A rather risky economic offer at present – reintroduction of the progressive taxation system may severely damage the State Budget;
- l Ion Iliescu – too old, much too worn out in political battles;
- l Weak leadership, with Mircea Geoană going from one blunder into another.
- l If it sorts out its problems in Bucharest and comes up with a reasonable candidate, it may find itself competing with PNL in the runoff, which would be the ultimate humiliation for PD-L;
- l Cooperation with PNL.
- l Internal clashes may impact the electoral performance;
- l Negotiations with PNL may be compromised if PSD insists on issues on which PNL will have no compromises, e.g. the flat tax rate (a major achievement of the Tăriceanu Government).
PNL sees an upward trend at present, drawing near to 20% in Bucharest. Unfortunately, this is not the case around the country. The Liberals’ main problem is that they have not even one county that they control. By having prefects and several ministers run for county council seats, the party may improve its electoral score and may well win several counties.
Their having announced their candidate for the Bucharest City Hall before all other parties and without problems gives PNL the upper hand on PSD and PD. But unfortunately the PNL offer for district mayors is rather hasty – most candidates are public administration experts, but have no visibility and public appeal. The district 2 and 6 candidates will likely win the seat with flying colours – Chiliman stands all chances to be re-elected anyway.
One problem for PNL is that it has failed to efficiently communicate its governmental performances, which are not bad at all (6% economic growth rate, foreign investments, tackling social injustice by raising pension benefits), and chose negative campaigns instead. These were effective in terms of reducing the opponents’ scores, but PNL has hardly capitalised on that. What they did is induce the idea that “parties are all the same” and drive the public away from politics.
PNL ought to focus now on positive campaigns, since the mass media already cover the others’ shortcomings well enough to let the Liberals mind their own.
The chance PNL has now is to market itself as the “third way,” an alternative to the FSN splinters.
- l The candidate line-up; PNL relies heavily on young experts, on new, uncompromised figures, which comes somewhat against the “personnel shortage” idea;
- l PNL is in power and controls resources;
- l The governmental performance was not that bad;
- l It is on an upward trend;
- l Opponents have used up most accusations;
- l It’s not a leader’s party (there are at least 3 alternatives to Călin Popescu Tăriceanu);
- l The goodwill of the business community;
- l Although they paid for it, they haven’t given up principles (vehicle charge, public funding for mass media).
- l The hostility of the media – which matters less as the media lose credibility;
- l Fateful image incidents that could have been easily avoided (the Remeș affair, Orban’s traffic incident);
- l Inability to communicate positive results.
- l It is the only significant right-wing party;
- l Appealing ideology;
- l Consistency in promoting right-wing policies (anti-communism, the denunciation of Securitate).
- l Some governmental measures were labelled as “leftist” and they affect the party’s ideological identity;
- l Negative media campaigns.
by Cristian BANU
Publicat în : English de la numărul 55
Revolutia din decembrie 89: Pacatul originar, sacrificiul fondator este prima carte dintr-o serie de sapte volume dedicate ultimelor doua decenii din istoria României. Nu am pretentia ca sunt detinatorul unui adevar politic, juridic sau istoric incontestabil, si sunt gata sa discut si sa accept orice documente, fapte sau marturii care pot lumina mai bine sau chiar altfel realitatea. Educatia mea stiintifica si religioasa m-a ajutat sa cercetez faptele în mod obiectiv, eliberat de ura sau intoleranta. Recunosc însa o anume încrâncenare în ceea ce am scris venita din durerea unui om care a trait în miezul evenimentelor si se simte lovit de acceptarea cinica a crimelor, abuzurilor, coruptiei si minciunii, sau de indiferenta la fel de cinica cu care sunt înca privite de catre o mare parte a societatii românesti.... Am scris aceste carti de pe pozitia victimelor mintite sau speriate, care nu-si cunosc sau nu-si pot apara drepturile. Le-am scris de pe pozitia milioanelor de români cinstiti care cred în adevar, în dreptate si în demnitate. Emil Constantinescu (text preluat din Introducerea cartii).
MINTEA CEA SOCOTITOARE
de academician Mircea Malita, Editura Academiei Române, 2009 În volumul de eseuri Mintea cea socotitoare, aparut la Editura Academiei Române, acad. Mircea Malita formuleaza în crescendo o serie de întrebari grave ale timpului nostru: Daca omul este rational, de ce se fac atâtea greseli în economie
sau în politica?; Daca rationalitatea nu e de ajuns, care ar fi rolul întelepciunii?; Din viitorul imprevizibil putem smulge portiuni, daca nu certe, cel putin probabile?; Ce si cum învatam pregatindu-ne pentru viitorul nostru?; Este în stare omenirea sa îsi vindece crizele?; Ne asteapta oare un dezastru final? s.a. De-a lungul anilor, acad. Mircea Malita a staruit asupra acestor teme în lucrari recunoscute, însa acum o face raportându-se la dinamica realitatii imediate, inspirat de cuvintele lui Dimitrie Cantemir: socoteala mintii mele, lumina dinlauntrul capului. Eseurile sunt structurate pe patru parti - Mintea senina, Metaforele mintii, Mintea învolburata si Privind înainte. Finalul este de un optimism lucid care tine seama de potentialul de rationalitate si imaginatie al mintii umane si, fireste, de generatiile tinere care îl pot valoriza benefic.
Această carte de poezie este seismograful de mare sensibilitate care înregistrează cele două întâlniri ale sufletului, deopotrivă cu URÂTUL care ne schilodește ca ființă, ca neam, dar și cu FRUMUSEȚEA sufletească nepoluată ce stă ca o fântână cu apă curată pe un câmp plin cu peturi și gunoaie nedegradabile. Ce poate fi mai dureros decât să surprinzi această fibră distrusă de aluviunile istorice încărcate de lașități, inerții, apatii, compromisuri devenite congenitale ale românului? Vibrația versurilor, directețea lor, simplitatea dusă până în marginea cotidianului paradoxal n-au efect distructiv asupra tonusului moral al cititorului, ci produc neliniștea cea bună, cum ar spune Sfinții Părinți. Citești în revolta și durerea poetei un mănunchi admirabil de calități: o demnitate neînfrântă, o fiziologie a verticalității și, mai ales, o inimă creștină, o inimă din ceruri, cum ar spune poetul latin. Căci, în această inimă din ceruri, există lacrimi deopotrivă pentru românul umilit, distrus până și-n visele lui, dar și pentru copilul din Gaza, cu sufletul și trupul chircite sub șenilele tancurilor unui război ce tinde să devină mai lung decât viața lui, ale unui război-viață, lacrimi pentru copilul evreu ce nu a putut fi salvat de la deportarea bestială, lacrimi pentru Tibetul sfâșiat. Și toate acestea fără impostura unui ecumenism sentimental, ci izvorâte din acel suspin curat românesc ce face esența lacrimii creștine. (Dan Puric)
ISLAMUL SI SOARTA LUMII - Fundamentalismul islamic ca ideologie politica de Virginia Mircea "Islamul si soarta lumii - Fundamendamentalismul ca ideologie politca invita la o reflectie mai adanca asupra porceselor lumii contemporane. Judecata critica si independenta a autoarei a produs o lucrare de o veritabila investigatie stiintifica, exact la momentul in care tema tratata deseori fara solutii si perspective ocupa scena din fata a politicii si problemelor mondiale. Cititorii o pot aseza cu satisfactie in bliblioteca lor de referinta. Vor fi mult ajutati in intelegerea evenimentelor care ne sesizeaza in prezent si intr-un viitor in care tema nu se va desprinde de mersul lumii contemporane." (academician Mircea Malita)