Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Corruption in Romania

Corruption is part of daily life in Romania, with almost half of Romanians admitting to paying bribes. It's almost become compulsory. "They no longer mention it, you know what's expected."

Some officials struggle against the rampant corruption but it often results in their dismissal. It's an ongoing battle between the politicians exploiting corruption and those fighting it. But following a push from Europe a number of high profile politicians have been charged, to the delight of Romanians. "People want to see convictions."

Almost everyone cheats or accepts cheating. Bribery is widespread. Indeed, it may be that Romanian society currently needs corrupt politicians in order to function, states an article written by 'European Voice'. An honest political elite working to reform society would lead to a collapse of the current system, since a significant number of leading business people, journalists, judges, teachers, academics, leaders of civic society and syndicates would have to be dismissed (and some imprisoned). The higher-educational degrees of many major politicians would have to be reviewed (and in many cases annulled).

On top of everything else, Ponta was proven to have lied about a master's degree and to have plagiarised much of his doctoral thesis. The accusation came from the camp of President Băsescu, who seems oddly unaware that himself exaggerated his own daughter academic credentials in 2009 when defending her nomination for a place in the European Parliament. (Some of Basescu's closest, and most powerful, allies are doctors in science without any peer-reviewed scientific publication.) Two of the ministers appointed by Ponta proved to have serious problems – one was dismissed as he plagiarised the other presented herself falsely as a graduate of a prestigious US university. Ponta resolved the issue by dismissing the governing body of the expert group that had accused him of plagiarism, claiming that it was staffed by Băsescu's supporters.

Most members of the political elite enter politics with a poor record: most of the older politicians were closely connected to the Communist Party before 1989; while most of the younger politicians have no experience of work beyond jobs that they received due to their political affiliations.

No political leader – Ponta, Antonescu, Băsescu and many others – can enjoy credibility in the eyes of the public when they inveigh against nepotism. Daciana Sârbu, Ponta's 36-year-old wife, had little on her curriculum vitae when she entered politics, but immediately became an adviser to the Năstase government – in which her father served as a minister. She is now a member of the European Parliament (and Vice-President of the European Parliament's Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals) – one of the best-paid jobs possible for a Romanian politician. So too is Adina-Ioana Vălean, Antonescu's wife.

The ascent of Băsescu's daughter Elena to a similar position in the European Parliament was appalling even by Romanian standards. In an incredibly short time, she moved from being a model to being leader of the PDL's youth wing and then to the European Parliament. (The job that Băsescu's other daughter, Ioana, has – as a notary – may to non-Romanians seem unlikely to raise suspicions, but in Romania being a notary is one of the best jobs and almost impossible to get without very good connections.)

In attacking politicians as corrupt, the media risk hypocrisy. Most advertising comes from the state or from companies connected, tightly or loosely, to politics. There is no truly independent media outlet in Romania and journalists are viewed as buyable.

The added documentary from 2008 by Journeyman Pictures is a MUST SEE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkNGvpTzLXk

Relating readings:

http://www.occupyforanimals.org/romania--organized-crime--stray-dog-business.html

http://www.occupyforanimals.org/romania---daciana-sarbu-a-head-with-two-faces---one-face-smiling-at-the-death-bringers-the-other-face-smiling-at-the-protectors.html

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