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  Nr. 4242 de marti, 27 mai 2008 
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Lords of the rings
The political class in Romania will undergo deep changes soon, changes like never before in the country's history. It doesn't necessarily mean we are heading a cleaner and more just world. It is simply that the hierarchy will change and stay so for a long time. And the key to this is decentralization. Power will move from Bucharest to the local leaders to be elected this year. They will become the lords of the rings, for each of them will decide on the destination of huge funds. Billions of Euro in the local budgets, coming from the European Commission funding, will head the way to be decided by Romania's new rulers.
The fact that this is the first time that the presidents of district councils are elected straight by votes will make them those characters to be most feared in Romanian society, people endowed with power as great as never before. Decentralization redirects the decision-making concerning public funds towards these elected. The central government will have a substantially smaller territory to control and watch, whereas the local bosses will enjoy much more freedom and money. Legitimated due to the elector's direct ballots, the district council presidents will also be a sort of heads of state and government in the respective territories. They will get access, under a weaker and weaker control by councilors, to a significant amount of the local budget, to that larger and larger slice distributed from the central budget and, what is more important, to the European funds. Every district council president will be allowed to spend about 2 billion Euro on an average. So he will be more or less generous with the city halls and with those important contracts on public funds signed with companies in the region. Owned by whom? Mainy by concilors or family relatives of theirs, mayors or their relatives, MPs or members of their families. So the district council presidents, these new lords of the rings, will give or refuse favors. Given this, it is just a matter of time till they can make committees obey them and build positive collaboration with mayors and MPs. So whom will the mayor of a certain locality obey in the future? Will he obey the president of the party he is in, lost somewhere in the Bucharest traffic jam, or the new local king, the man who masters district or European funds? And whom will the PM obey in the future? The boss in Bucharest, on which he no longer depends, given the uninomal vote system, or the local lord of the rings, who can give him a piece or not?
The new local lords will be allowed to proceed to normative documents. The MPs subordinate to them will pass the documents and the common idea will be the development of decentralization and the augmentation of local power. In the future it will no longer be the central structure that will decide on the candidate lists. The lords of the rings, who may be reelected on and on, given the law, will be the ones to decide who and from which party runs as candidate in the respective country. What power will people like Mircea Geoana, Adrian Nastase, Calin Popescu Tariceanu, Emil Boc and even Traian Basescu have in the future?
This is just the start of a demonstration. Such lords of the rings, a 42-member conclave, will consolidate their power for four years. And in four years' time the true kings, that is the masters of Euro-regions, will be elected in their turn. Romania is slowly looking away from Bucharest. In piety or anger, contented or discontented, citizens will start looking somewhere else. And I fear that the whole talk serving political, not humanitarian interests, the talk about a cleaner political class will turn out to be the consolidation of the most important local barons we have now got.
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