3.1.1 Political Background and Dynamics after the Revolution

Academic Research paper and Study of the Economy of Romania and Romanian Business

In 1944 Romania was occupied by the Red Army, which gave way to a rapid build-up of the formerly entirely unimportant Partidul Comunist din România (PCR) (cf. Schaser & Volkmer 2006: 297ff.). As reparations, most capital and output was diverted towards the Soviet Union while the communist party came to power in 1947 with massive election fraud and the Soviets’ help. The whole opposition was destroyed, their leaders executed as “fascists” and the Socialist Republic of Romania was born (ibid.). The new constitution was adopted from Stalin’s draft of 1936. Romania joined COMECON and in 1955 the Warsaw Pact. The whole economy and society was nationalized and centralized (cf. chapter 3.1.2). The first secretary general of the meanwhile renamed Partidul Muncitoresc Român (PMR)[1] was Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, a former trade union leader and loyal follower of Stalin. During the Soviet’s “anti-zionistic” campaign (1950 – 1952) he “cleaned” the party from Jews and rivals. At the same time, after Stalin’s death in 1953, he used this purge to claim the destalinization to be “finished” (ibid.). Due to his loyalty and conservative attitude Soviet troops left Romania in 1958. However, COMECON’s suggestion to stop Romania’s industrialization in favor of agriculture gave a quick end to the short period of Russian-Romanian friendship. With some smart moves between 1963 and 1964 Gheorghiu-Dej reached a considerable degree of independence from the Soviet Union, closed Russian cultural institutes in Romania, sent Moscow’s KGB advisers home and deleted Russian from the syllabi.

Romania during Communism


But the system itself remained unchanged. After Gheorghiu-Dej’s death in 1965 Nicolae Ceaușescu, cobbler and labor leader who left school after the fourth class, was found to be the right successor. The party was again renamed to PCR and the ruling class changed. Ceaușescu himself held virtually all important positions within state and party and governed the country as Conducator and “earthly god” (ibid: 307) via presidential edicts. He based his “national communism” on the Marxian-Leninist notion that nations will survive revolutions for an uncertain time and opposed the Soviet Union successful for several times. He condemned the intervention in Czechia 1968, held diplomatic relations with Germany and even Israel during the six-day-war and welcomed President Nixon. Thus, he gained an acceptable reputation at home and abroad. But the distance to the Soviet Union concerning foreign politics was not reflected by a more liberal domestic policy. It rather facilitated the economic and political isolation of the country. The living conditions worsened in favor of a fast debt repayment (cf. 3.1.2) and monumental architecture projects. After the revolution of 1989, which’s real dynamics still are subject to debates and never have been unambiguous clarified, Ceaușescu and his wife were caught in 22.12.1989 and publically shot on Christmas, three days later. As Ceaușescu was reluctant to “import” (ibid: 310) “glasnost and perestroika” Romania entered into transition without ever having experienced even slight reforms.

Romania after Communism


Accordingly, the political landscape afterwards was rather chaotic. An extensive overview of the parties involved, the constitution and its amendment, the different governments and important politicians is given by Alexandrescu & Stoica (2005). In absence of an available opposition – the victory of the revolution was proclaimed by poet Mircea Dinescu via TV (cf. Schaser & Volkmer 2006: 311) – it were old politicians, conducted by Ion Iliescu and his Frontul Salvării Naționale (FSN), who happened to take power again. The first elections in 1990 confirmed their claim for leadership (cf. Gabanyi 2006 b). Nonetheless, several measures for democratization were introduced. The Romanian party system witnessed some extraordinary dynamics of new- and re-foundings, alliance-buildings, fusions and renamings (ibid: 529) but stabilized subsequently. The following elections (1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004) gave mostly power to alliances consisting of several single parties and also included a change of power each time. Some political observers (Stelian Tănase) even dare to expect that just three parties will gather in parliament after the forthcoming elections in 2008 (cf. Business Standard 2008 a).[2] While this assertion might be based more on wishful thinking than realism it indicates nonetheless how much the conceivable constellations have changed. Up to now four alliances had been part of the Governments. Three of them consisting of each two parties, one involved six different parties (cf. Alexandrescu & Stoica 2005: 345–353).

The Constitution of Romania

The first constitution of Romania came into force by the end of 1991 and was slightly revised in 2003. From 1991 to 2003 the political system was classified as “semi-presidential”, afterwards as parliamentary (cf. Gabanyi 2003: 531). President and parliament are elected simultaneously. The effective power of the president (maximal time of office lasts two legislation terms) is subject to several checks and balances, which actually make it hard for him to fulfill the population’s high expectations towards his position (ibid.). Furthermore, in particular since the President cannot dismiss the Prime-Minister, conflicts between President and Government are frequent. The results from such a cohabitation already worried the European Commission regarding the latest quarrels about the replacement of the Minister of Justice and the reliant resume of reforms in the judicial system (cf. Escritt 2008).


[1] Romanian Workers’ Party.

[2] This optimistic point of view is of course not unchallenged. The renown political analyst Cristian Pârvulescu prefers the notion that “vom avea parte de un an imprevezibil” [we will witness an unforeseeable year, SH] (cf. Business Standard 2008 a).