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Nationalism Essay

2058 words - 9 pages

The National Salvation Front (FSN), led by Ion Iliescu, comprised the new provisional government. Iliescu gained popularity by proclaiming his role in the death of Ceauşescu and championing a new “one party democracy” (Wolchik and Cury 318). Ceauşescu’s legacy and the lack of political competition in Romania led the citizen’s of Romania to believe in the empty promises of reform made by the FSN and Iliescu. The National Salvation Front promised to be a transitional government and to offer free and fair elections (Wolchik and Cury 317). In May 1990, they offered free, but unfair elections in which Iliescu won the presidency with over 85% of the vote and the FSN won a majority of parliament ...view middle of the document...

The year 1997 showed potential as a turning point for Romania. In 1996, Iliescu lost the presidency to Emil Constantinescu of the Romanian Democratic Convention in a runoff election. Up until 1997, Romania had not experienced rule under a non-communist leader since the late 1940s. Democratic opposition groups and anti-Iliescu collations joined the Democratic Convention of Romania under Constantinescu. Constantinescu, together with his new coalition government, promised sweeping reforms including economic restructuring, privatization, and an anticorruption program (Wolchik and Cury 319). Victor Cirobea, Prime Minister at the time, offered a “Contract with Romania” in which he vowed to takle Romania’s gravest problems in his first 200 days (Vachudova 205).
Constantinescu was able to make some progress toward democratization through a small number of reforms. Constantinescu allowed political competition, de-politicized the military, and begun to liberalize the economy (Vachudova 207). In addition he entered historic reconciliation treaties with Hungary and the Ukraine and returned land lost during the communist era (Kaplan). Most importantly, Constantinescu championed Romania’s commitment to Western diplomacy. An important breakthrough in Romania’s struggle to democratize was Bill Clinton’s visit in July 1997 (Kaplan). Robert D. Kaplan, a foreign correspondent for The Atlantic, wrote, “For Romanians, Constantinescu and others told me, Clinton's visit symbolized nothing less than the closing of that dark historical chapter, which continued beyond the fall of the Berlin Wall.” Clinton promised to aid Romania in joining NATO if they continued on the path to democracy (Kaplan). Unfortunately the CDR proved ill equipped to implement all the reforms it promised, leading to discontent among the population. The opposition leaders were unprepared and “coalition infighting undermined or blocked virtually all reform” (Vachudova 205). Under Constantinescu’s government, progress in Romania finally occurred; however, Constantinescu knew he was not widely supported and decided not to run for reelection. Ion Iliescu, representing the Social Democratic Party (PDSR), resumed the presidency in 2000. The West was apprehensive about the return of an oppressive, former communist to power; however, Iliescu appeared more democratic in light of the pre-accension process to the EU ("Ion Iliescu, President of Romania”). Iliescu and his Prime Minister, Adrian Năstase, privatized state owned banks, shut down inefficient corporations, and attracted foreign investment (Vachudova 213). Iliescu’s government also introduced anti-corruption laws in 2001 and in 2003 (Wolchik and Cury 325). Iliescu continued the progress made under Constantinescu; however, corruption was still present in Romania, civil society was weak, and political competition lacked. Information asymmetries between the government and the citizens persisted since Iliescu still controlled most media outlets...

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