Monday, October 4, 2010


President Traian Basescu's government has been unable to pay wages and pensions without a €20 billion ($26 billion) bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund and other lenders, and the IMF is demanding strong action to trim Romania's debt.
Romania continues to be one of the poorest countries in the EU. The international crisis causes a rapid worsening of conditions. The Romanian political elite concentrate, above all, on more centralisation of power. A weak civil society desperately struggles to be heard
Chaos and a feeling of impending catastrophe characterise Romania’s current political and social situation. The global crisis has brought the worst times for Romanians since the dark days following the 1989 Revolution, when resources were scarce and a fearful, uncertain people, desperate for leadership, saw a new political elite emerge.
The economic recession that began in late 2008 evokes memories of the late 1990s. Today, continuing layoffs result in rapidly growing unemployment. Around a million people (or 10% of the labour force) are currently without a job.
Meanwhile, massive and persistently organised strikes attempt to protect decreasing salaries. In contrast to the empty shops of the early 1990s, the shelves are now full of goods; but this brings little comfort, because few people can afford anything. Inflation remains almost inexplicably high at over 4%.
Policies, apparently approved by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), are being promoted by Prime Minister Emil Boc’s centre-right cabinet to fight “stupid” salaries and pensions. However, economists and unions say these measures will only lead to a drastic decrease in wages and pensions of those already living on the edge of poverty.
Poor infrastructure and even poorer management of European funds meant for its upgrade are still a major impediment for local business development and foreign investments.

While growing social and political tensions shake the country, the Romanian ruling class, headed by President Traian Băsescu and Prime Minister Emil Boc, seems to concentrate primarily on centralising power.
At present, state actions practically depend on the tacit or expressed approval of Băsescu, as the informal leader of the ruling Democrat-Liberal party. He is regarded as the omnipotent godfather of the current government.
According to critics, Băsescu’s authoritarian populism will eventually become obvious and be a two-edged weapon for Romania’s president Băsescu ...... will eventually remain alone, abandoned by his own party and his voters, “exactly like Ceauşescu was in 1980s.”
6,000 police angry over a 25 percent wage cut marched to the presidential palace. Witnesses said police pelted the palace with eggs, with some shouting, "Get out, you miserable dog!" Blaga told reporters he deeply regrets the incident.
Indeed, the rising poverty or attempts for marginalising of democracy could cause the civil society to eventually rebel against its rulers.

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