The Politics Bite I recently wrote for the upcoming SRS Newsletter:
General Elections Make Way for Social Liberal Super-Majority
The December 2012 general elections confirmed the alternation in power effected by the April censure motion and the June local elections. Following a “black summer” during which the suspended President Traian Basescu was reinstated as a result of a referendum and the government of Prime Minister Victor Ponta took some controversial steps bordering on unconstitutionality, Ponta’s Social Democrat Union won as much as 68 percent of seats in parliament. With fewer than 13 percent of seats each, Basescu’s Democrat Liberal Party and the Popular Party of Dan Diaconescu represent a weak opposition. President Basescu, whose second mandate will end next year, was severely delegitimized when 7.4 million Romanians voted against his return in July. The new Ponta government, whose reputation remains seriously crippled by charges of clientelism and plagiarism, has effected a comprehensive bureaucratic purge and partly restored the public servants’ wages cut down in 2010 as part of an austerity package meant to help Romania avoid Greece’s fate. Once the post-electoral “honeymoon” is over, Ponta’s popularity will ultimately rest on his ability to continue much needed reforms of the judiciary, curb corruption, stimulate economic growth, and attract increased foreign investment.