Romania History: Post-Communism

On May 20, 1990, Iliescu was elected president on a temporary basis (thirty months in office), while the contextual legislative elections entrusted Parliament with the role of Constituent Assembly. The serious economic crisis, made more sensitive by the liberalization of prices, and the persistence of a certain ambiguity in the internal political situation marked the following two years. There were various and different protests, from the violent one of the miners of the Jiu valley, called by Iliescu against the student opposition that in the square peacefully demanded more rapid and radical reforms (June 1990) to that of September 1991, in which the miners themselves clamored for the resignation of Roman and following which he indicated as his successor Teodor Stolojan, who was appointed prime minister in the October 1991.

Subsequently, with a popular referendum, the new democratic Constitution was approved (December 1991). In the administrative elections of February 1992, the first free in more than 50 years, the FSN was defeated by the Democratic Convention (CDR), a grouping of opposition forces that was affirming itself in the main cities. The Congress of the FSN in March 1992, with the approval of the economic liberalization policy proposed by Roman, marked a clear defeat for Iliescu, who gave birth (April 1992) to a new party, the Democratic Front for National Salvation (FDSN), while from the rest of the FSN the Democratic Party was born under the leadership of Roman. The political elections of September 1992 saw the victory of FDSN and the presidential contemporaries the success of Iliescu on the candidate of the Democratic Convention, Emil Constantinescu. In November a coalition government was formed, headed by Nicolae Vacariou, an expert in finance and macroeconomics proposed by the FDSN, but not belonging to any party. In 1993 Romania joined the Council of Europe. In 1995 the Vacariou government, of which two nationalist-inspired political forces had joined, the Romanian Party for National Unity (PRUN) and the România Mare movement, had to face the problem of the claims of the Hungarian minority, opposed to the new education law which required the use of only the Romanian language in the country’s universities; the dispute over minorities put the executive itself in difficulty, causing the breakdown of relations between Iliescu’s party (which in the meantime had changed its name to that of PSDR, the Romanian Social Democracy Party) and the ultra-nationalists of România Mare.

On the economic side, according to Ethnicityology, the government of Romania launched a privatization plan for state-owned enterprises, whose modest success could not avoid the depreciation of the national currency and its consequent devaluation. The lack of international aid, however, did not allow the unfolding of an economic policy which, in order to really attack the dramatic situation in the country, had to rely on an adequate system of amortization of the inevitable social costs. In these conditions, President Iliescu presented himself in the elections, having to face a composite but fierce opposition that was able to overturn the result of four years earlier. The Democratic Convention made a pact with Roman, leader of the Democratic Social Union (UDS), which allowed the conquest of the relative majority in Parliament (October 1996) and the subsequent victory of Constantinescu in the presidential ballot, the following month. The new president placed Victor Ciorbea (CDR) at the head of the new coalition government, formed with the UDS and the Magyar Democratic Union (December 1996). In February 1997 Ciorbea presented a radical economic recovery plan in accordance with the International Monetary Fund and approved in May also by the World Bank, which granted Bucharest a credit for economic reforms. But the heavy economic restrictions opened a deep internal conflict within the coalition, which led Petre Roman, president of the Senate, and Ciorbea to resign. In his place was appointed the Christian Democrat Radu Vasile: the new government also worked to restore citizenship to the former King Michael, granted in February 1998.

The growing economic instability determined, in December 1999, a new political crisis, which led to Constantinescu to revoke Vasile’s mandate and to appoint Mugur Isărescu, former governor of the Romanian Central Bank, as premier. The presidential elections of 2000 decreed the return of Iliescu who, bringing a landslide victory over Vadim Tudor, the leader of the nationalist party România Mare, with the support of the Democratic Convention halted the advance of the racist and xenophobic extreme right, which with the policies of the previous month became the second political force in Parliament. Iliescu, thus accepting the collaboration with the center-right parties also in the hope of obtaining greater trust from international institutions to face the difficult economic situation of the country, appointed as prime minister the vice president of his party (in the meantime renamed PSD, Social Democratic Party) Adrian Nastase, who formed a new minority government with the external support of the CDR. In October 2003, a series of amendments to the Constitution were approved in a referendum., while negotiations for accession to the European Union were entering a final phase, set for 2007. The parliamentary elections in November saw a partial affirmation of the PSD, not sufficient to guarantee a stable majority; A center-right coalition government was then launched (National Liberal Party, Memocratic Party, Romanian Humanist Party and UDMR, the Hungarian ethnic party), led by PNL leader Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, while at the same time the presidential ballot saw the successful candidate of center-right, Traian Basescu. On January 1, 2007, the country joined the European Union. In April Tariceanu presented a new government in which the National Liberal Party and the Udmr joined, moreover the Parliament approved the suspension from his functions of President Basescu, for having violated the Constitution, as he refused to approve the new government. In May, a referendum was held against the president, which, however, received the approval of the voters and avoided the impeachment. In November, the European elections took place with a very low turnout, around 30%; the Democratic Party won. In December 2008, legislative elections were held with low turnout. The opposition PSD party obtained a weak majority with 33.6% of the vote, followed by the Liberal Democratic Party with 33%; the National Liberal Party reached 18% of the votes. Immediately after the president Basescu appointed premier the economist Theodor Stolojan (PDL), who resigned from office. In its place was appointed Emil Boc, also of the PDL. In December 2009 the presidential elections were held, won by the outgoing president Basescu with 50.33% against 49.6% of the challenger Mircea Geoana. In January 2012, Boc resigned, following protests over the economic measures launched by the government. After a transitional government led by Mihai Răzvan Ungureanu, in May the Social Democrat Victor Ponta became prime minister, while in July the parliament suspended President Basescu from his functions, causing the country to enter an unprecedented political crisis. In December, the coalition led by Prime Minister Ponta won the legislative elections. In November 2014, the liberal Klaus Iohannis won the presidential elections against V. Ponta.

Romania History

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