Romania. The year was filled with conflict, both
politically and economically. The government experienced a
setback in the EU when nine member states in January decided
that their labor markets would be completely or partially
closed to Romanians for another two years.
Then came home demonstrations demanding the resignation
of the government and the president. The protests included
plans for privatization in health care, increased taxes,
reduced wages and frozen pensions, which were austerity
measures to get € 20 billion in crisis loans from the
International Monetary Fund (IMF). The severe corruption was
also the cause of the anger. Many were injured and others
were arrested during violent protests in the capital
Bucharest in January. When the Foreign Minister expressed
condescension about the protesters, Prime Minister Emil Boc
was forced to dismiss him.
The fight against corruption had some success when former
Prime Minister Adrian Nastase was sentenced by the Supreme
Court to two years in prison for using public funds in an
After continued protests against austerity, Prime
Minister Boc resigned in February. Former Foreign Minister
Mihai Răzvan Ungureanu was appointed new head of government.
His government, however, became only a few months old. The
Left Opposition announced a vote of no confidence, and in
April the coalition fell.
countryaah, social Democrat leader Victor Ponta was given the task of
forming a new government. His coalition with social
democrats, liberals and conservatives was approved in
parliament in May. Because of the domestic press against the
government, the IMF agreed on some easing of its terms, such
as raising public salaries to the level before the 2010
The second half was marked by a bitter power struggle
between Prime Minister Victor Ponta (S) and President Traian
Băsescu, former communist but now bourgeois. A conflict
involved which of them would represent Romania at the EU
summit. According to the Constitutional Court, it was
Băsescu, but Ponta ignored the court and traveled to
Ponte's majority in Parliament replaced the Opposition
Presidents and replaced them with coalition representatives.
In addition, the government decided to dismiss President
Băsescu in national law. He was accused of violating the
Constitution and violating his powers when the state budget
was cut in 2010. The Constitutional Court tried to impede
national law, but the government issued decrees and
Parliament voted through the proposal. Developments in
Romania worried the EU, and the United States also expressed
concerns about democracy in the country.
The decision on national law must be approved in a
referendum, and until then the new president of the Senate
took over as interim president. When the referendum was held
at the end of July, less than 50% of the electorate
participated, which invalidated the vote. Otherwise, 87% of
those voting wanted President Băsescu to be deposed in
Prime Minister Ponta wanted the Constitutional Court to
declare the referendum valid, and the political struggle
that followed caused the Interior Minister to resign. When
the government was reformed, a Holocaust denier, Dan Sova,
received a ministerial post responsible for the government's
relations with Parliament. It provoked outrage both in
Romania and internationally.
In August, the Constitutional Court declared that the
referendum on national law against the president was
invalid, and Băsescu was able to return to office.
In September, the government decided to announce
parliamentary elections for December. At the same time, the
Constitutional Court declared that Parliament has no right
to decide who will represent Romania at the EU summits.
According to the court, it is President Băsescu who will do
In November, President Băsescu and Prime Minister Ponta
met for the first time after this summer's bitter political
battle. They then agreed that Romania would seek new loans
from the IMF.
In the recent parliamentary elections in December, Victor
Ponta's Social Liberal Government Alliance USL emerged
strong and won its own majority. With over 58% of the vote,
USL took 273 of the 412 seats in the Chamber of Deputies.
President Băsescu's right-wing Alliance ARD lost more than
half of its mandate and stayed on 58.
Against his will, the president was forced to renew the
election of Ponta as the prime minister. When the new
government took office in December, Ponta promised to end
the conflict with Băsescu.