The Republic of Romania.
The National Salvation Front (hereinafter NSF) declared that it was not a political party and did not seek power for itself. The NSF stated that it was merely a caretaker administration seeking to organise elections. The NSF was an unlikely vehicle for reform seeing as it was made up almost without exception of senior ranking members of the previous regime. The NSF decided to contest the elections anyway. But any thoughts of continuing the old system were rapidly abandoned, the revolution had taken on a momentum of its own and the desire for authentic democratic change could not be stopped.
In Timisoara participants in the revolution demanded that RCP members be disbarred for holding elective office for ten years. This proposal never saw the statute book. About 20% of the adult population had been members of the RCP at its peak. This figure was greater the higher one went in any profession. If the Timisoara proposal had been given the force of law virtually everyone with any administrative experience would had been ruled out of governance and the country would have been rendered ruderless.
Even Securitate officers responsible for the most gratuitous violence escaped punishment almost entirely. A sign of the times was that the death penalty was abolished on 7 January 1990. Ceausescu’s henchmen who were facing trial must have breathed a collective sigh of relief. Dascalescu, who served as the last Prime Minister under Ceausescu was put on trial, was facing a host of charges. He was found guilty and sentence to life in prison. In 1996 he was released on the grounds of poor health.
Nicu Ceausescu was given a gaol term of 20 years for plundering the national wealth but he was set free in 1992.
Elections held in 1990 gave the NSF and unhealthily large majority – over 70%. The NSF was basically the PCR in a new guise and was able to use the mainly still intact structure of the old party. It seemed the changes since the Revolution had been mostly cosmetic. In 1990 hardship arguably exacerbated. Most disturbingly, the Mineriad took place. It is so called because it involved miners. Students who were dissatisfied with a government made up of Communist retreads took to the streets of Bucharest. They were exercising their democratic rights as guaranteed by the new dispensation. Freedom of assembly and freedom of expression were these rights. Old habits die hard. Disagreeing with the government could not be tolerated. The protestors called for genuine reform. Miners who were blindly loyal to the government were bussed in. They severely beat the recalcitrant students and at least one of the students died. The miners were even fed from gendarme vehicles. Why had Iliescu not simply ordered the gendarmerie to beat the protestors black and blue themselves? This at least was progress. The State would at least try and be one degree removed from brutalising its critics. Iliescu met with the miners and lavished praise on them for their patriotic spirit and laudable actions. He had this filmed and broadcast on national television. He plainly felt that he had nothing to be ashamed of, it was a warning to all those who might foolishly imagine that they were now fully free. What had he promised the miners to make them act so?
In September 1991 Iliescu used the miners for the same thing. At least three youngesters were killed by his rentamob.
The miners were to be bitterly disillusioned. In a few years many pits closed and the miners were, in many cases, out of work. Those miners who caused trouble for the government then were handed long stretches in prison. What goes around, comes around.
It seemed the state had not lost its totalitarian attitude. Many top Securitate officials retained high positions or came into great wealth. They knew how to access the bank accounts abroad. They had also been selected for their intelligence. It had attracted Romania’s best and brightest because the rewards for serving Securitate were great indeed.
Gigi Becali bought land from the Ministry of Defence for bargain basement prices. It appreciated in value massively and was sold as some of Romania’s most desirable real estate. He later acquired Steaua football club and founded his own New Generation Party. He preaches racial hatred against minoritieas despite being from the Aromanian minority. Aromanian means ”not Romanian.” This ethnicity are also known as ”Vlachs” and are scattered throughout this part of Europe.
The Romanian economy was like a supertanker. The economy was declining fast and even taking the right decisions to improve it, the economy would take some time to stop disimproving and a long time to start moving in the right direction.
There were many street children and orphans, abadoned victims of Ceausescu’s natalist policies. The foreign media focussed on the shocking neglect of these children in state institutions. The workers in the childrens’ homes bear little responsibility, they had an insuffiency of money and few resources to work with. Foreigners adopted orphans in large numbers. Contraception and termination were legalised. Gambling was legalised and the sex trade, though illegal, flourished. Previously the only hookers whom the police turned a blind eye to were those who were pumping foreigners for information.
Drug misuse crept in on a significant scale for the first time. The abolition of the police state was not all good.
The Ministry of the Interior troops were changed into Gendarmes as they had been before the Communist takeover.
Compulsory military service was ended.
Gheorghiu-Dej was disinterred from his position of honour in Carol Park and reburied in an ordinary graveyard. The Polytechnic in Bucharest dropped his name from its title.
The statue of Lenin was removed from the Spark House before a huge crowd in 1990. The building was renamed the House of the Free Press.
Restrictions on the cultural activities of minorities such as the Hungarians were lifted. They enjoyed a renaissance.
Many places were renamed in honour of those who had laid down their lives for the country’s freedom in 1989. They are often buried in Heroes of the Revolution cemetery.
Iliescu frantically tried to distance himself from a party he had been in for 45 years. He claimed to have been purged in the early 1970s, despite having gone on holiday with Ceausescu at the time.
Many of those who had sung the praises of the Leader for years backpedalled. Nationalists claimed that he was only a camel that they could use to carry their baggage. The most nauesatingly sychophantic such panegyrist was a racist loudmouth named Corneliu Vadim Tudor. He later founded a the Greater Romania Party calling for the reintegration of Bessarabia and northern Bucovina. He denounced everyone who was not Romanian and indeed most Romanians to. It is easier to define him by what he is against than what he is for. He hates Jews, Gypsies, Hungarians, gays, new religions, the EU – you get the picture? He denounces every other politician as a thief.
A man named Gigi Becali bought a lot of land from the army in the Baneasea area, just north of the capital. This became prime property. He is the richest man in Romania and founded the New Generation Party. He expresses his saloon bar prejudices in trademark blunt style. He bought Steaua football team and became a daily fixture in the media.
Romania developed a free press and freedom of expression. Emigration was permitted and the gypsies were allowed to wander the country again. This was accompanied by a resurgence of anti-Ziganist feeling. Some gypsies lamented the passing of Papa Ceausescu.
The shortages of food and medicine eased in the early 1990s but the days of a guaranteed job for life were over. Some hankered back to the days of the dictator. The young had a chance to adapt but for the old this was difficult. There were many unemployed Russian teachers as people scrambled to learn English instead. Free market reforms came only slowly.
King Mihail was allowed back into the country but few people wanted to restore the monarchy. An opinion poll suggested it was only 15%.
In 1992 the FSN began to decline. Iliescu’s followers split from the FSN and set up the Social Democrats. The others in the FSN founded the Democratic Party. The National Liberal Party – in the tradition of the pre-Communist era party – was also established.
Codreanu’s nephew refounded the Iron Guard but this made very little headway. Some attempted to rehabilitate Antonescu and a statue of him was even unveiled outside a church built on his orders. The statue was later removed after an outcry from the Jewish communion. Antonescu had a street named after him in his native city, Pitesti.
In 1992 the former Yugoslavia’s breakup degenerated into internecine warfare. This was a boon for Romania. A potential source of cheap goods, labour and raw materials was out of the running but that was only minor. There was a huge demand for one of the few things that Romania could produce in great number and at a high standard – arms. Romania surreptitiously sold weapons to Serbia despite the embargo on this. This was not due to a particular affection for Serbia or animus for Serbia’s foes. It was simply most convenient to do so as Serbia shared a border with Romania and none of the other belligerents did. It helped that Serbia was the largest of the protagonists and thus had not only the largest demand for weapons but seemed most likely to emerge the gainster. Moreover, it was surely prudent to have amicable relations with Serbia as she is Romania’s second largest neighbour. This trade provided some much needed hard currency in dark times. Besides, there is a very small Serb minority in Romania and it endeared the government to them.
Iliescu lost a presidential election to Constantinescu of the Democratic Convention. An entirely peaceful and democratic transfer of office from one man to another was a first in Romanian history. But in 2000 he lost office and Iliescu returned to the presidency.
Many Romanians started to travel abroad because now they were free to go. Obtaining permission to enter foreign countries was not easy. Romanians particularly moved to Italy as the language is easy to learn for Romanians. Significant Romanian communities established a foothold in Germany, France, Spain, the US, the Republic of Ireland and the UK. Some went as legal immigrants and some as illegals. Some claimed asylum abroad on various grounds, even on the basis of being a royalist. In 1998 a Romanian man claimed asylum in the UK on the basis of being a homosexual, his lifestyle was illegal in Romania at the time. His claim was upheld. Only later did Romania legalise homosexuality although attitudes towards it remain very negative.
Romanians of the German and Hebraic ethnicities could now of course emigrate freely to their ancestral homelands. Many did so.
Many private universities were founded by some said that the quality of them was poor and a few of them functioned as little more than degree mills.
Romania made attempts to join NATO and the European Union. It eventually attained candidate status for the EU despite misgivings arising from corruption, poverty and human rights.
The New Right – an ultra-nationlist party – was founded. It preaches hatred towards Jews, Gypsies, Hungarians and gays. Its graffiti is seen all over – Bessarabia is Romanian soil! It has little electoral success.
Many lament the decline in solidarity since the Revolution, the sense of duty. They say that selfishness, junk culture and crass materialism have taken over. People sometimes say that respectfulness has broken down. It is noted that very little public construction has gone on since the Revolution and many public works abandoned in 1989 are still incomplete.