7 december 2016
Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos went to Antena 3 TV on Tuesday night, just hours after saying that this television station is a “swamp” and he needs to put his rubber boots on before going there and take a shower afterwards.
Journalist Mihai Gadea tried to confront him aggressively on this declaration but the Head of the Government has remained calm the entire time and said that he maintains the declarations. He then accused Antena 3 of lying about him and his Government and even showed prints of Antena 3 shows where he was accused, among others, of “cutting salaries” and “trying to sell Constanta Port”.
Ciolos’ performance was widely seen as being very good while Antena 3 journalists’ behavior towards the Prime Minister was seen as a “disgrace” in large sections of the media and on social media platforms.
Why did Ciolos went to Antena 3? Is there any chance that his “performance” affects the result of the elections?
First of all, Dacian Ciolos needed to create some kind of emotion in this electoral campaign in order not just to convince the undecided electorate to vote for the parties that support him (PNL and USR), but also to change the image himself had left after he had initially distanced himself from the two parties.
He managed to create controversy Tuesday by attacking Antena 3 just before responding to their invitation, something that suggests his move could have been planned.
The Antena 3 journalists fell in a trap, set intentionally or not. Their aggressiveness compared to Ciolos’ calm and common sense was obvious and it revolted a lot of people, mainly in the younger and urban areas of the society. Exactly the categories that the “center-right” camp wants to energize and make them vote.
Will this change a lot in the voting intentions? No. But this election will be very close and even 1 percent might make a difference. It was a good night for Ciolos, PNL and USR. PSD and ALDE will likely respond.
25 november 2016
USR leader Nicusor Dan sued Victor Ponta and Sebastian Ghita for Soros funding allegations
Union Save Romania president Nicusor Dan has sued Victor Ponta (PSD deputy and former prime minister) and Sebastian Ghita (media mogul and PRU deputy) for their accusations that its party is funded by the American billionaire George Soros.
The accusation of being “Soros funded” was the main issue against USR, used primarily by some PSD and PRU politicians and by the pro-PSD station Romania TV. These accusations are to suggest the party is controlled and that they have a hidden agenda.
22 november 2016
PSD president Liviu Dragnea said he suspected that the Government attempts to rig the elections in favor of PNL and USR with the help of the interns working in the Executive’s IT program. He implied that the interns would be used for posting pro-PNL and USR messages on the Internet. Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos responded caustically giving assurances that the Government is doing its best for free and fair elections.
What is behind Liviu Dragnea’s accusations?
First it is a good electoral campaign theme, which has the potential to mobilize PSD’s electorate. Vote rigging accusations were essential in the 2004 and 2014 elections, as well as in the aftermath of the campaign to suspend then-President Traian Basescu in 2012.
Second it is a preemptive move from PSD, who had often been accused by its opponents of trying to commit electoral fraud. It had been used before in the 2014 elections when PSD had pointed to illegal moves by PNL branch in Ilfov county. Such allegations (almost natural in an electoral campaign) would lose force if PSD itself is the one that has opened the subject.
15 november 2016
President Klaus Iohannis has attacked at the Constitutional Court the law initiated by PSD leader Liviu Dragnea, which is meant to eliminate over 100 taxes, amongst which the most notable ones are the radio-TV tax and the vehicles tax. Iohannis has taken this decision on the grounds of lack of predictability and coherence, although the Government refused to attack it.
As expected, PSD and ALDE are accusing Iohannis of “humiliating the Romanians” by rejecting a law which would increase their living standards. Iohannis’ action was to be expected and PSD seeks to obtain an electoral advantage by portraying once again the Iohannis-Ciolos-PNL-USR camp as being pro-austerity and anti-positive measures. This is the second law attacked by the “center-right” after the Government took the salaries increases in Health and Education public sectors to the Constitutional Court.
Both actions will bring further ammunition to PSD and ALDE in the electoral campaign, which is already a close race between the Left (PSD-ALDE) and the Right (PNL-USR and probably UDMR and PMP).
A fast decision from the Constitutional Court on both laws would weaken PSD’s arguments in the campaign, although not fully eliminate them. PSD still has the upper hand in this campaign as the two laws are the main debates themes, covering the anticorruption theme, where PSD is perceived as vulnerable.
10 november 2016
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the National Bank of Romania (BNR) both criticized the Parliament’s decision to vote huge salaries increases in the Education and Health systems. The IMF warned that these measures will increase the 2017 deficit to 3.5%, will have a negative impact on the relations with the European Union and will lead to sharp drops in investment.
BNR also said that Romania should firmly remain inside the 3% budget deficit limits and that Romanian economy cannot support the increases.This positions help those that oppose the increases (the Government and PNL) but PSD and ALDE are still in advantage when it comes to the electoral campaign where their discourse suits well a part of the voters.
As expected, the Government attacked the law because it would increase the budget deficit for 2017 by about 4.8 billion LEI. Also, the law adopted by the PSD-ALDE parliamentary majority doesn’t respect the law of budgetary responsibility according to the Government.
PNL is the party most affected by the Government’s decision, being strongly associated with the Government and Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos. PSD and ALDE will use this opposition against the Liberals and USR (Union Save Romania, the other pro-Ciolos party) in the electoral campaign.
PNL and USR will play the responsibility card but it is clear they have to find ways to frame the electoral debate in their own terms. At the moment PSD and ALDE have the upper hand, helped by these salaries increases and by the fact they eliminated more than 100 taxes.
A prolonged debate on the subject will also help PSD while a rapid decision taken by the Constitutional Court will calm the debate on this issue.