Enabling Environments for Civic Movements and the Dynamics of Democratic Transition - Romania
|Publication Date||10 July 2008|
|Cite as||Freedom House, Enabling Environments for Civic Movements and the Dynamics of Democratic Transition - Romania, 10 July 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4912b62c28.html [accessed 25 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Period of democratic transition: 1990
Pro-democracy civic movement: present
Throughout the latter half of the cold war, Romania was harshly and capriciously ruled by Nicolae Ceausescu, one of Eastern Europe's most repressive dictators.
The collapse of the Ceausescu tyranny was precipitated by growing public discontent that appeared in part to have been orchestrated by segments of the country's Communist leadership and former Communist officials. Protests against Ceausescu's regime began among the ethnic Hungarian minority, eventually spread to Bucharest, and resulted in Ceausescu's execution on Christmas Day 1989. The collapse of the totalitarian system was accompanied by significant violence that claimed over 1,000 lives, with several thousand others seriously wounded. While civic groups, labor unions, and political parties quickly rose, most of the initiative and all power was transferred to the National Salvation Front (NSF), a body established in December 1989 by a group of anti-Ceausescu Communist Party officials along with dissident writers and liberal cultural figures. In 1990, public civic discontent focused on the post-Ceausescu NSF, which was dominated by former party officials. The NSF accepted the end to one-party rule and agreed to the emergence of opposition political parties and independent media outlets that over time led to the emergence of a competitive democratic system. However, the months that followed Ceausescu's fall from power were marred by significant violence directed at the opposition. The NSF nonetheless dominated the national media in the early months after the Communist regime's collapse, and in May 1990, NSF leader Ion Iliescu was elected president with 85 percent of the vote. Multiparty legislative elections followed in February 1992.
Elections have since continued smoothly in Romania and have been considered generally free and fair by international observers. The need to restrain corruption has been a popular theme in election politics.