Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

The regular order

Adelina Marini, April 19, 2010

What do you think regular rule is? And isn't these mutually excluding words - if it would be a regular than it is most certainly an order. The phrase however is implemented in practice in the White House, meaning the right procedure or the right way to do any work. This is the explanation of the Washington Post columnist David Ignatius. For example, he writes, it is impossible for an official to walk into the Oval office and brief the president about a new pet policy.

The head of state will send his servant away with the words that his idea, initiative or whatever that is, has not been reviewed by his staff and that this is not the "regular order".

David Ignatius explains that the creation of such a mechanism of work, from which no one is diverting for any reason, creates confidence and stability in the work of the administration. He gave as an example the recent nuclear summit in Washington where 47 world leaders gathered together in a search of a resolution to nuclear terrorism.

The columnist is giving a very colourful image of how things might have happened then: "Honk, honk! If it was Monday, it must be President Viktor Yanukovych agreeing to accept Obama's proposal to safeguard Ukraine's highly enriched uranium. Or maybe it was Chinese President Hu Jintao discussing with Obama new sanctions against Iran".

Thanks to this new relentless order, the American president was able to strike a hattrick in the nuclear sphere within a fortnight. He signed the new START treaty with Russia, cutting the number of warheads by 30 percent, presented the new nuclear posture and hosted a nuclear summit. There is a lot of work behind this success. Obama's purpose was to fix what he saw as President George W. Bush's disorderly process.

During Bush's second term, he personalized policy, making secure video conference calls with leaders in Kabul or Baghdad, without always making sure the nuts and bolts were fastened. David Ignatius warns, however, that the weak points in the new regular order are that the president is trying to do too much.

Why am I sharing this article with you? Because it is an indication that it is not always impossible pre-election promises to turn into administrative solutions. Barack Obama promised change, promised reforms and yet in the first year of his term the results are visible. Yes, it's true that his rating is dropping but, after all, one, even if it is a politician, must believe in what he is doing. Otherwise, if it is about the rating one could become an actor, then the attention is even greater.

And how is it with us? In Bulgaria the prime minister, who also promised change and reforms, is playing with media by calling news conferences from now to in an hour's time just to announce his intentions for reforms or to share that someone is hampering his efforts to realise them. He also reports that he found many scary things but does not offer a solution how to deal with the problem. He does not want the consent nor the support of the society to realise painful reforms, nor explains his actions. His only aim is to have enough media time in order to maintain the fire in the exhausted Bulgarian soul still lit on.

Even during the interinstitutional crisis with the participation of the president, he got insulted that the Bulgarian National Television aired live the press conference of Gheorghi Parvanov and he had only a few minutes on the phone in the evening news. The same national TV that has even stopped trying to claim that it was a public one.

This is why I told you about this article in the Washington Post. Because I think that Bulgarian government's behaviour demonstrates not only a lack of a regular order but of any order at all, which might have some positive effect on its rating in the short-term, but in the longer term this is deadly both for the cabinet and the country. And, in fact, we do not have to copy someone else's ideas, it would be enough to just decide to give ourselves in to what we have started and if we do not like it or cannot do it - to find something we can do best and invest all our efforts in it.