December 13, 2004

Romanian Politics II

The Liberals won the Romanian presidency

The preliminary official numbers are as follows:
Traian Basescu 51,75%
Adrian Nastase 48,25%

Prime Minister Nastase has conceded.

This means that the head of state is now Liberal while who will form the government and select a prime minister is still unclear with the Social Democrats having the right to try first. To make the math work, they need to get to 167 seats.

Their electoral alliance socialist/humanist got 132 seats. Add in the hungarian chauvinist party's 22 seats and they have 154, 13 shy. The only other available source of votes are the minority parties.

Romania's constitution gives 18 recognized minorities 1 seat each in the House of Deputies (lower house) and, for the first time under the current constitution, they're the power brokers. If the liberals can pull 6 of them to their side, the PSD can't form a government without going to the PRM, something that would absolutely kill Romania's chances for integration with the EU and guarantee a PSD defeat in 2008.

But taking on each minority deputy means taking on a different party's demands for patronage and policy input. If the PSD goes for the minimum number to form a government, they'll have a 16 party coalition. If they get all the minority parties in, they'll have a 21 party coalition.

Any student of parliamentary politics knows that this has very little chance to last the full parliamentary term. Early elections are all but foregone in that scenario.

The people who really run Romania in the smoke filled back rooms do not want early elections. They've never wanted early elections, seeing it as a nasty step backwards towards the post WW II Italian laughingstock model of politics.

The latest is that the humanists are talking of bolting the social democrats. The hungarian chauvinists are saying all bets are off if the humanists do that, and all of a sudden, a liberal government seems very possible.

The back rooms are still full of smoke and the deal makers are wheeling and dealing in an opera that would make Boss Tweed or Mayor Daley (either one) smile and nod in recognition of the very familiar rhythms of power ebbing and flowing among the people who really matter.

Some day, the bosses will be broken in Romania as Tammany Hall was broken, but not today, not today. That's going to be a generational fight, hopefully starting in 2008.

Posted by TMLutas at December 13, 2004 11:54 PM