A Dangerous Mélange: Romania’s War of Powers

In Romania, a war between the justice system and the political sphere.

In normal democratic countries we see a separation of powers. In Romania we see a war between them. The recent decision of the chambers of deputies to prevent Prime Minister Victor Ponta from a criminal investigation was more than the simple protection of a person. It can be seen as a veritable assault on the justice system. This decision underlines one more time the mistrust of politicians towards their judiciary institutions. A mistrust that often results in their own will to survive.

The Romanian justice system has seen a lot of improvement in the last year. It developed from a bunch of institutions well trained for the purpose of some, to a reasonably functioning apparatus. Supported by knowhow and money from Brussels and the other EU-member states Romanian judges and prosecutors matured from puppets to what can be called fairly independent actors. In difficult circumstances: Politicians have been trying to regain territory unceasingly. The recent decision is not a surprising twist of some state paid deputies – it is only another foray in a long, enduring battle.

The political sphere mourns its victims: a former prime minister already convicted for bribery as well as numerous former ministers, politicians, party activists etc. And every one of them was a victory for the other side.

The case of Prime Minister Ponta suspected of money laundering, tax evasion, forgery and conflict of interest still stands in between.

Much attention has been given to Romanian justice matters by the West, that in the meantime forgot about the miserable political landscape. But no real modernization of the country can happen without the two going hand in hand.

The Romanian problem results in the fact that only one is rushing ahead. The justice system proves the country’s ambition to reach European levels, the political sphere driven by self-interest proves the opposite. Every step towards Brussels means fewer bits for the nomenclature.

It’s a mélange real wars can result of.

In Romania they do.

Cover photo via Ziua Constanta
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Eva Konzett

Eva is an Austrian journalist with the business daily Wirtschaftsblatt. She mostly covers the CEE/SEE-region, and was a correspondent in Romania from 2012-2013. She's written for publications in Austria, Germany, and Romania.