Let’s have a look at this picture. I took it inside the European Parliament on 12 July 2012. It shows, seated, from left to right, the (then) Romanian Socialist prime minister Victor Ponta and the (then and now) boss of the European Socialists, the Bulgarian former prime minister Sergei Stanishev.
At home, Ponta and his Socialist (PSD) party had just fomented (backed by the PNL fake Liberals) a parliamentary coup in the hope of overthrowing the elected president Traian Basescu.
They failed, and although Ponta imposed himself at a EU summit then, instead of president Basescu, he was side-lined, kept waiting, and other chiefs of government refused to shake his hand. The only one coming strongly in his favour was the Socialists’ supremo, the Bulgarian Stanishev, who presented him to the press, in the European Parliament, as a victim and a hero.
At home, Ponta kept attacking Europe and the Commission, blaming the EU institutions for all the plagues afflicting Romania.
Now, almost six years later, after a feud inside the PSD that forced him to launch his own pocket party called Pro Romania, Ponta is campaigning supposedly for Europe, longing for the fleshpots of Brussels.
Why is this worth mentioning, beside the fact that Ponta managed to lure into his mini-party another PSD renegade, the Romanian EU Commissioner Corina Creţu?
Well… Because Victor Ponta embodies the perfect contemporary example of that Hero with a Thousand Faces, as Joseph Campbell titled his book on comparative mythology. In this book, Campbell discusses his theory of the mythological structure of the journey of the archetypal hero found in world myths. Campbell explores the theory that mythological narratives share a fundamental structure, which he calls a monomyth,
Now, someone like Victor Ponta has put on so many masks, that he himself must have lost count of them. Like in Campbell’s theory of the ever repeating monomyth, Romanians have watched, myth after myth, how Victor Ponta kept changing ideological masks while claiming to lead the same fight.
Now, Ponta says he launched a “start-up party” with a pro-European orientation. Pro-European orientation indeed! … Not only, when he was prime minister, Brussels was presented as the source of all evil, but Ponta permanently attacked Europe. Ponta and his mentor, with whom he fell out since, the Romanian Socialist boss Liviu Dragnea, have taught simple people to fear and mistrust Europe. Ponta is just as guilty as Dragnea of the worsening of the public morals in Romania since the parliamentary coup they have lost back in 2012.
Meanwhile, Ponta got, of all things, the Serbian citizenship and became a counselor to Aleksander Vučić, the authoritarian Serbian president, neighbouring Serbia also offering political asylum to one of Ponta’s friends and protectors, the fugitive shady businessman and corrupt politician Sebastian Ghiţă, who fled to Belgrade to avoid arrest and trial.
How many masks did Ponta already wear? In the past he was proud to sport the Communist red star and a Che Guevara T-shirt. In Brussels, he befriended the ECR Eurosceptics, and was invited by the British Conservatives to a congress last year, where he told them he had always been a “man of the Right”.
Maybe tomorrow he will be spotted with a LGBT flag, announcing that he is also an ecologist.
He even tried once to put on the mask of a real hero “who risks his life”: in 2014 he ridiculously staged an alleged Taliban attack on him while visiting the Romanian troops in Afghanistan.
So now, with the EU elections approaching fast, he became a “start-up pro-European”, like his new protector, the not so gentle giant Aleksandar Vučić (who is two metres tall, but Ponta is also very elongated). After all, Vučić also went from being one of Milosevic’s henchmen to becoming Europe’s favourite interlocutor in Serbia. All that Ponta has to do is to say, like Vučić, from behind his new mask: — “I changed.”
With that, he will have reached, all in all, mask number 999. There is one missing to make it to 1,000, but that one does not suit him, and no wonder: it is the mask of honesty.
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