Public debate: Pandemic and Politics, barriers and chances of consensus

Press Release

on the organization of the debate “Pandemic and Politics, barriers and chances of consensus”. Developing Political Culture through Public Debates”. Public debates series held by the news agency IPN in its conference room with the support of the German Foundation “Hanns Seidel”


Held on 16 April 2020, Debate No.129 brought together: Political commentator Cornel Ciurea; Projects manager Valeriu Pașa, of the WatchDog Community and IPN project’s standing expert Igor Boțan.

Speaking about notions, the IPN Project’s standing expert Igor Boțan said that “politics” in the narrow meaning means the governance practice of a state and represents the area of activity of political players. These are “public political players”, which is an expression deriving from the well-known Constitutional Court judgment of December 2010. The judgment refers to the institutions of special public interest, stipulating that the Government is the main player. In a narrow meaning, politics means “assumption of all the human interactions”, but also the activity of political parties. The notion “consensus” means understandings, agreements and embracing of the same ideas.

Igor Boțan reminded that Prime Minister Ion Chicu on March 17 presented himself in Parliament and in the name of the Government asked to declare a state of emergency that limits the people’s right to movement and right to assembly and implies the fight against fake news – distortion of the situation concerning the pandemic. The consequences derive from those limitations and they include the halt in economic activity, and not only, for many institutions and there is consensus only within the limits of the Government’s mandate. But the problems that appear in such a situation are related to political culture, the general culture of people who should obey the state of emergency and those limitations.

The expert said the equipping of medical institutions is among the witnessed problems. This is a problem of the whole society, not only of the government. Another discussed problem is the fact that 1/5 of those confirmed with COVID-19 are doctors, who are in the frontline in the fight against the pandemic, and society should take care of these people. Different problems appear in parallel with the pandemic and the fight against it. “There should be consensus in containing the pandemic, but the other things should also be debated,” stated Igor Boțan.

Political commentator Cornel Ciurea said society seeks a kind of political consensus in times of the crisis. “This means absence of confrontations between the power and the opposition – a kind of political slumber. This is not the consensus that means an agreement. It is a kind of consensus that obliges the opposition and the forces that oppose the government to take a break as the crisis, more exactly the pandemic, is considered a much more serious enemy that makes society to mobilize. There are particular conditions that justify such an approach and for this reason the power insists a lot on the idea of a kind of freezing of conflicts for the duration of the state of emergency - abandonment of political confrontations. The opposition does not really take such suggestions into account, being bothered by a number of things,” he opined.

The political commentator said the role of parliamentarianism is diminished during the state of emergency. Whether the Government can or cannot restrict the Parliament’s right to try to monitor the way in which the crisis is managed is open to question. “I think the Government has this right as the role of parliamentarianism in emergency situations should be limited drastically. But the opposition does not accept this and their arguments are clear,” he stated.

Cornel Ciurea noted the opposition considers it should challenge the power during the state of emergency as the dangers of the pandemic haven’t been yet seriously felt in society. “The crisis is overcome rather easily. In much harsher conditions, the power and the opposition would have found a compromise swifter and would have refrained from generating political struggles that can be now seen daily and some of them are really exaggerated. The opposition should probably identify obscure interests, but this is not the most important aspect in times of a crisis,” said Cornel Ciurea.

Projects manager Valeriu Pașa, of the WatchDog Community, said that since the start of this crisis, he hasn’t seen government or opposition politicians doing politics. “I consider what they do is called politicianism. They struggle for public attention and try to sting each other. To my mind, this is not politics or political struggle. This is a kind of competition – who is more populist and more politicianist. Why? Because the government, on the one hand, lamentably failed to manage this crisis since its appearance. I mean the stage of prevention and the worsening of the crisis. So, they effectively ignored all those who demanded to take measures. They lied and falsified information and statements and this swiftly came out,” stated Valeriu Pașa.

According to him, this refers to the information about the outfitting of hospitals and the purchase of protective equipment. “It has been a month and a half since the crisis started. It has been over a month since the tender contest for purchasing equipment was launched, but the doctors haven’t been yet supplied with equipment. The management of the crisis in the public health sector with a minister who does not know medical procedures and who is probably a good public policy manager, but not in the current situation is disastrous,” stated the expert. He criticized the work done by the administration of the National Public Health Agency and the President’s interference in areas where he does not have legal powers.

The Agency published 7 news stories on the debate (see the English version of on 16.04.20, „Pandemic and Politics, barriers and chances of consensus. IPN debate” -; „Opinion: Nicolae Furtună simply lies in each of his appearances” -; „Valeriu Pașa: Constitutional Court taught opposition and government a lesson” -; „Cornel Ciurea: Political struggles could soon expand” -; „Cornel Ciurea: In state of emergency, role of parliamentarianism should be limited drastically” -; „Igor Boțan: Political consensus is needed only in containing pandemic” -; „Igor Boțan: If political debates are not wanted, they should not be caused” -

IPN promoted the debate before and after the event, in particular the ensuing news stories, using all the available channels, including social networks. Confirmatory materials of deliverables, as well as a media coverage dossier are attached.

Valeriu Vasilica, director of IPN

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