The New York Times

Paul Krugman Blog: Romania Unravels the Rule of Law

The New York Times,
Paul Krugman Blog
Guest Post: Romania Unravels the Rule of Law

A political crisis has gripped Romania as its left-leaning prime minister, Victor Ponta, slashes and burns his way through constitutional institutions in an effort to eliminate his political competition. In the last few days, Ponta and his center-left Social Liberal Union (USL) party have sacked the speakers of both chambers of parliament, fired the ombudsman, threatened the constitutional court judges with impeachment and prohibited constitutional court from reviewing acts of parliament – all with the aim of making it easier for Ponta to remove President Traian Basescu from office. They hope to accomplish that by week’s end.

In just a few months in office, Ponta’s government has caused a great deal of political damage. Setting its sights on the next election, Ponta’s government passed an election law (later rejected by the constitutional court) that would make it much easier for the government to stay in power. The government has already neutralized the legal effects of decisions of their key opponents – the constitutional court and the president – by taking control over the publication of the official gazette that determines when laws and decisions come into force. If the government fails to publish the decisions of the constitutional court and the decrees of the president, they are simply not law. To top it all off, Ponta launched a culture war.