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Is history really to blame? In a country where actions of an ignominious nature are even encouraged, and those of rapacity looked upon as mere proofs of dexterity and cunning, corruption of principles cannot fail to become universal. The on-going conflict between the Romanian public and the political elite over corruption has recently been given new impetus. Corruption and Romanian politics are often portrayed as synonymous.

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Is history really to blame? In a country where actions of an ignominious nature are even encouraged, and those of rapacity looked upon as mere proofs of dexterity and cunning, corruption of principles cannot fail to become universal.

The on-going conflict between the Romanian public and the political elite over corruption has recently been given new impetus.

Corruption and Romanian politics are often portrayed as synonymous. Romania ranked 69 out of countries on the Transparency International Corruption Perception index and joined Italy, Greece and Bulgaria as the most corrupt of the EU states. However, over the last decade anti-corruption efforts have accelerated, in part due to the demands of the European Union during the accession process and of the wider public. However, the appointment of Monica Macovei as Justice Minister in boosted anti-corruption efforts.

Her success and willingness to tackle high level corruption in the PSD and the governing Truth and Justice Alliance made her many enemies and contributed to the collapse of the Alliance in However, as she recently pointed out , DNA faces a large number of cases pending investigation but has limited resources. Furthermore, as the Sova and Voiculescu cases show, politicians will use every trick in the book to keep themselves out of jail and delay cases for years, such as exploiting parliamentary immunity and other legal loopholes.

Corruption can be divided into three levels, all interwoven with the way the state functions. While elite level corruption attracts the most press and political attention, the remaining two are more insidious.

Elite corruption most commonly involves privatisation and land deals, with bribes taken from companies to secure contracts within the realm of the politician concerned. If a relative is in hospital, for example, one can expect to pay the staff informally in order for the relative to receive the care and attention they need.

Thus for those at the bottom, a cycle of paying and taking bribes persists out of necessity. Almost all public institutions are politicised, with senior appointments often made on the basis of political loyalty.

For example, the Interior Ministry appoints the heads of the National Archives and other academic and cultural institutions.

The Ponta government immediately replaced all of these with party loyalists. Combined with the absence of transparency in public institutions, such mid-level corruption creates the perception that to get a job or a contract, one must have contacts, which stem from corrupt patronage relationships and party loyalty.

For young Romanians, then, the choice is either to accept the system or to leave. Corruption is thus deeply embedded within Romanian society, and the arrest of prominent key politicians will not remove it. Many blame corruption on a historical culture of corruption. However, this hardly explains the perpetuation of corruption, as the Ottomans lost influence in Furthermore, the s shortage economy meant that citizens depended on the black market and informal networks.

Those with in-demand resources thus became powerful, and the absence of a political rupture in meant that these networks remained unbroken. Moreover, all sides show hostility towards anti-corruption. Some invoke defensive nationalist arguments and claim that Romania is being unfairly singled out; a possibly apocryphal tale recalls Jacques Chirac, Silvio Berlusconi and Tony Blair lecturing Romanian politicians about doing more to stop corruption.

An alternative response is to minimise corruption; for instance, former PSD Foreign Minister Ioan Rus recently invoked Adam and Eve as the first example of corruption and declared it to be human nature.

The third post-crisis response argues that corruption is a red herring, and that neo-liberalism and IMF imposed austerity measures cause much more damage to society. The politicised state is another major source of corruption. Many officials are political appointees, and the victorious party distributes offices — which offer the opportunity for personal enrichment — as a reward for support.

Thus the failure since to uncouple the state from political parties remains a major barrier to reform. The Romanian party system shows little ideological differentiation across the board, and instead falls back on patronage networks to mobilise voters locally.

The PSD in particular has built its powerbase on these networks of local barons. The other Romanian parties have repeated this pattern.

However, non-PSD politicians have successfully converted public frustration towards corruption into political capital. The latter election provided a galvanising moment for the electorate. The PSD barons in particular, coming under threat from the DNA, were keen to ensure victory to keep themselves out of jail. Many of the cases currently being moved forwards were likely delayed until after the elections, in part because the PSD has always argued that anti-corruption is a politically motivated plot against them and has called for the disbanding of DNA and the reversal of anti-corruption measures.

The Microsoft case shows how corruption transcends party lines and can draw in Western companies. Between and the Romanian government arranged via Fujitsu-Siemens Computers to hire Microsoft programme licenses for government computers including those in schools. The government overpaid for these licences that they could have bought outright and ended up spending million US dollars. Furthermore, Fujitsu-Siemens was not authorized by Microsoft to sell licences for educational software. Corruption is structural, political and also cultural.

Those wishing for a clean political system face a problem encapsulated by former Foreign Minister Andrei Plesu: They are forced to choose between inexperienced, incompetent angels and experienced, competent devils. Thus since his election, Iohannis has struggled when confronted with the entrenched political networks of Bucharest, leading to several missteps. Sadly, a number of his appointees, including his advisors, were appointed because of their connections rather than their abilities.

With more revelations coming out each day, the Ponta government faces increasing pressure. Sova, like Ponta and Udrea, belongs to the younger generation. According to the constitution, the government can only be removed by parliament or resign of its own volition. It cannot be removed by the president. This gives Ponta the upper hand, and he will try to weather the storm and ignore the protests, as he knows that early elections would be fatal for the PSD.

Early elections might not make any difference, however. While they may result in further high profile cases, they are unlikely to have any deeper impact on Romanian society or politics. Low wages for state employees make taking bribes a financial necessity. Moreover, the portrayal of corruption as a generational result of the abnormality of Romanian Communism has been discredited by the cases involving politicians who were teenagers when Communism ended.

Politicians who have gained power and influence through these networks — whose lack of transparency facilitates corruption — are unlikely to act to destroy their own powerbases. The party system depends so much upon patronage networks that it needs state institutions to reward supporters. Without the depoliticisation of state institutions, the DNA is likely to continue playing catch up in perpetuity as the system maintains and re-enforces itself. He works on contemporary Romania, rural politics and historical democratisation.

Where are we on the Richter scale today, post Ponta indictment? You can blame corrupt weasels on the of the pile. David dragan Selakovic has recently been found guilty of selling billions of dollars worth of fake, unauthorized, grey market, or counterfeit Microsoft and Adobe software products in the United States of America. The gentlemen that has behind all of this illegal and counterfeit Microsoft Software is David dragan Selakovic.

David dragan Selakovic is a Serbian national who also happens to be the older brother of the current Serbian Prime Minister of Justice, Nikola Selakovic. Your email address will not be published. Notify me of follow-up comments by email.

Notify me of new posts by email. Search for:. Blog Admin April 14th, Corruption and anti-corruption in Romania. Finally turning the corner? Anti-Ponta and Sova protestors. Photo: In a country where actions of an ignominious nature are even encouraged, and those of rapacity looked upon as mere proofs of dexterity and cunning, corruption of principles cannot fail to become universal.

William Wilkinson, An Account of the Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia, London The on-going conflict between the Romanian public and the political elite over corruption has recently been given new impetus. Former Tourism Minister Elena Udrea in handcuffs. Photo: nineoclock. Levels of Corruption Corruption can be divided into three levels, all interwoven with the way the state functions. History is to blame? Parties, the State and Corruption The politicised state is another major source of corruption.

Anti-corruption as a mobilising discourse However, non-PSD politicians have successfully converted public frustration towards corruption into political capital.

The Microsoft Case The Microsoft case shows how corruption transcends party lines and can draw in Western companies. Will the Government Fall? Share this: Tweet. About the author Blog Admin. Posted In: Current affairs Romania. Leave a Comment Cancel reply Your email address will not be published.

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