Oh mercy. Yesterday, the Big Vote was held, and the PSD and members of the minority parties “successfully” voted out Prime Minister Grindeanu, the same man they had installed in office just six months ago.
You can read about the fallout here in English, but what I wanted to focus on today was how the vote was conducted. I’ve touched on this topic before in 2012, but today I want to discuss how yesterday’s vote was conducted by dropping balls into urns.
In the American “parliament” (Congress), there are only two ways for members to vote. One is with a recorded vote that you can look up online (or on paper at the archives) where each member either votes yea or nay (or abstains). The other way is with a “voice vote” where the majority of audible responses decides the issue.
In Romania, on the other hand, there are three ways that members vote. Rarely, and with great difficulty, the votes are recorded. The second, more popular option, is via OUGs (an acronym that stands for “emergency government ordinances”). This is when a minister promulgates a “temporary” law with no voting necessary.
Third, and probably the rarest way to vote, is with balls dropped into either a black or white urn. Each member of parliament is given a single ball which they can drop either into the black (no) urn or the white (yes) urn. Although the urns are in public view in the parliament palace, members can hide their vote by placing both hands in the urns simultaneously, thus disguising which hand has the ball.
I find this method highly undemocratic. What’s the point of secret votes by a public representative? But during yesterday’s vote, I thought it might actually be beneficial because it would allow dissenting PSD members to vote against Dragnea’s wishes without any repercussions.
Well, that’s not how it turned out. Dragnea only needed 233 votes to bring down his government and yet he got 241. The PSD currently has 67 senators and 155 deputies for a combined total of 222 possible votes. So the way it looks is that every single PSD member voted to bring down their party’s government.
That’s important to remember because it means that every single PSD member is responsible for all of their party’s irresponsible acts over the years, including removing the president of the country twice, ignoring a popular referendum, approving a raft of OUGs that did everything from legalizing corruption to destroying cultural institutions, and rigging parliamentary elections to stay in power.
Look, non-PSD politicians, especially Emil Boc, Traian Basescu, and Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, are partly responsible for all the corruption and poor governance over the past few years, but there is now no doubt whatsoever that the PSD deserves the lion’s share of the blame.
The PSD has blocked any healing or evolution from Romania’s communist past, selected extraordinarily corrupt leaders like Iliescu, Nastase, Ponta, and Dragnea, partnered with organized criminal elements, suborned and threatened judges, beaten and teargassed protesters, and engaged in extremely undemocratic behavior that flagrantly violates the Constitution.
I honestly can’t see a good path forward for Romania as long as the PSD party continues to exist. And I’m not sure the country will be able to survive another 10 years with them around.