Op/Ed 1: Romania and a Nostalgia for Nicolae Ceausescu’s Communist Regime

By Louis Lacroix

            Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis has been questioned lately about the integrity of his government as people are losing faith in it, and some old-time partisans even think of a time where Nicolae Ceausescu’s rule was “not that bad” compared to what they experience today. While criticism is a fundamental basis of all democracy, Romanians far-right populism recalling to that time as a positive period compared to Iohannis’ service is deeply saddening and worrying for the future of their nation. Romania chose to re-elect President Klaus Iohannis for a second five-year term on November 10th, 2019, and some of the Romanians are starting to have second thoughts about the sincerity of his government as corruption which was and still is a priority for his party is still going strong. Some of Iohannis criticized decisions include his close relationship with the Social Democratic Party (PSD) to gain more political power, while being in the National Liberal Party, a center-right political party that would essentially make him undisputed as a President. Even the PNL Prime minister, Ludovic Orban, decided to quit the party entirely by the end of 2020 because of a disappointing parliamentary election and this new association.

            This coalition government was formed with the goal to bring political stability. Going back to communist Romania, it was the complete contrary. Nicolae Ceausescu is known for his tragic end at the bloody hands of the Romanian but what is more important here is how he got to that point. One of the turning point of his regime was the Securitate, the secret police service to execute his will upon the population. Furthermore, he instigated a cult of personality around him and his wife to give them a more glorious status compared to his fellow citizens. From 1967 to 1989, his dictatorship of the country just kept getting worse as he kept demanding more from the Romanians in terms of taxation, exportation of agrarian and industrial products, the destruction of many villages for different schemes, and new restrictions on contraception and abortion. As a staple of a dictatorship, freedom of press and speech were both censured. The main thing that made him so bad at leading a country was his own incompetence, and it was the population that suffered for it and it explains why it was the Romanians that ended his term quite radically after years of oppression.

            When looking at how the Romanian democracy system has come so far in the last 25 years, it is hard to find reasons to call back to the dictatorial regime. One of the main improvements that was made in the years following the transition was the development of public relationship departments that would not only bring a more liberal era, but also give the control of Romania back to the Romanians. Their current leader, Klaus Iohannis, even won the Charlemagne Prize for transforming his country into a more standard “European state.” Yet, a Romanian communist past is still something that about 60 percent of the population would want according to a 2014 INSCOP Research poll. One of the biggest things that they look for is to be heard as a population and this is when the comfort of populism comes in. Previously in power, the PSD with Liviu Dragnea was a favorite because of all the tax cuts and in a way, the availability of corruption for the middle class in his government up to 2012. But as corruption grew further into the institution of Romania, Dragnea was caught for money laundering, which opened the door for Iohannis to proceed with some institutional changes. Since it was much more well perceived, the fight against corruption was a good entry for the new President in function since 2014. But as of today, some people are worried about the joint forces of the PNL and the PSD as they once were political rivals, and the justification as previously discussed is stability. It can be worrisome as a party like the PSD with a recent uneasy past of political wrongdoings mixed with a president that sits since 2014 with a solid popular support that a less democratic system could be to come with corruption remaking its roots deep within. The most important thing to remember is that it’s a democratic coalition with both the president and parliamentary elected separately, so a break between the two party could happen easily if a side is unsatisfied. Also, in the current time, a regime that may present a more centralized government will always be better than the communist regime of Nicolae Ceausescu.

   

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