Studia Politica, vol. V, no. 1, 2005
The 2004 local and general elections confirmed once again that Romanian post-communism defined itself not as a reconstructed state based on representation and as a democratized polity nurtured by the rule of law, but as a political regime that qualifies as democratic simply since it is holding regular multi-party elections. Particracy and the logic of political dualism, which gives the President the final word over Parliament, made sure that these elections are not meant to summarize the will and values of the political society in a deliberative and legislative body, but to measure the share each established political party is entitled to have in the post-electoral negotiation of the executive body. Elections are not conceived as a mirror in which society reflects its cleavages in order to conciliate them without violence, but as a weighing machine for partisan distribution of offices and privileges. In short, elections are not representing society, but introducing the government and reproducing the state. Technically, they are rather particratic than democratic. Procedural democracy is pitted against the very meaning of democracy. In post-communist Romania, elections seem to be an instrument of democracy used to disenfranchise for the second time a disaffected sovereign people.
What Party Models for Central and Eastern Europe? A Study of Organizational Structures of Romanian Political Parties
Political parties are core state institutions of modern democracies. They are key structure of representation and they can therefore be seen as a focal point for numerous crucial questions about what they are, how they organize, what functions they assume, etc. In this framework, the author aims at an understanding of the Romanian parties’ landscape in terms of patterns of organisation. In Central and Eastern Europe, parties are often stigmatised as corrupted, inefficient, unrepresentative bodies. The various studies on this argument lay emphasis on their considerable weakness in terms of structure, behaviour, functions and so on. Without neglecting these obvious criticisms, this article offers a different perspective. The various specificities in terms of organisation can be seen both as signs of inexperience or degeneration but also in terms of adaptation. Romanian parties are not carbon copies of theoretical frameworks; they are a blend of ideal images and local incentives. In line with other regional studies on this topic, this article asserts the lack of relevance of the overemphasized cartel parties’ model in Romania. A patchwork model is therefore more appropriate, as Romanian parliamentary parties tend to promote a hybrid organization by emphasizing a concern for mass structuring correlated with highly elitist management.
The paper draws partially from a 12-country EU-funded research project entitled ”Enlargement, Gender and Governance: the Civic and Political Participation and Representation of Women in EU Candidate Countries” (EGG), aiming to find the main causes for women’s under-representation in political and administrative organisations, pre- and post-1989, and to demonstrate the need for policies designed to stimulate women’s participation. From resource mobilisation theory to the cultural stereotype theory, and on to the gendered organisation theory, the authors use several lenses to explain a comprehensive collection of Romanian and comparative gendered statistics, as well as their findings through in-depth interviews, and draw the necessary conclusions from an abridged review of the Romanian literature on enlargement, gender and governance.
Governmental Dynamics in Post-communist Romania: December 1989 - May 2004
The article analyses the patterns of governmental change in post-communist Romania, from 1989 to 2004, by examining its political and institutional dimensions. It first tries to quantify the governmental volatility, measured at both levels of ministries and deputy-ministers. Secondly, it investigates the institutional aspects of governmental instability focusing on the different politics imagined by the political actors with regard to the structure of the executive power. Both dimensions help identify several logics of promoting the new political elite and colonizing a fluid state structure. The conclusions of the study emphasize the convergence of the post-communist elites, as well as a personalized rationale of the continuity of political decision.
No Change from the East?
The last simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections in Romania have not brought many novelties in the manner of constructing and disseminating the electoral messages. The same confusion between the presidential message and the parties’ messages has been maintained in an electoral race that impressed more by the political marketing techniques used, than by the approach proposed to the real issues at hand. Like all the elections before, the presidential candidates’ messages were privileged and were used to promote both the person and the party that each represented.
The decrees issued by the President of Romania were not widely discussed in the public law doctrine. The two exculpation decrees of December 2004 issued by Ion Iliescu had an enormous impact on the public opinion, and it was debated whether or not, according to the Constitution, the President does have the prerogative to revoke its own decrees. The de facto situation is analyzed in this article from a legal point of view, by reference to the existing norms at that time, as well as by reference to the legislation subsequently adopted. Taking into account the current Romanian normative framework regarding the presidential powers, some considerations de lege ferenda are made. The conclusion of the article is that both decrees can be considered as materially accomplished and they can be challenged before an administrative court only by individuals which rights were damaged by the issuing of an exculpation decree by Romania’s President.
After briefly reviewing the situation in other Central and Eastern European countries, with all the appropriate theoretical and legislative annotations, the author looks into the mechanisms whereby the political representation of ethnic minorities is ensured in Romania, in the light of November 2004 general elections. The analysis then turns to several case studies, shaped by the decisions of the Central Electoral Bureau. One debate focuses on the applications of the representatives of non-Hungarian ethnic minorities to run in the elections (through a debatable system of positive discrimination) and the manner in which they have been considered; another case in point builds on the conflicts that arose among the Hungarian representatives. The author presents the highlights of the electoral campaign sponsored by several ethnic parties, continuing with a detailed picture of the 2004 parliamentary elections, in a comprehensive comparison to the previous elections. The results are interpreted in the light of the post-electoral negotiations, with a concluding discussion regarding the cartelisation of the ethnic-based Romanian parties.
The Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania in the Parliamentary Elections of 1990-2004
The study examines the performance of the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (UDMR) in the post-communist parliamentary elections by comparing the participation of the citizens of Hungarian nationality in the voting turnouts. The comparison takes into consideration not only the global results of the UDMR in the different parliamentary elections of 1990, 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004 in Romania, but also specifically the percentage of votes it obtained in the counties inhabited by Hungarian nationals. Moreover, this study attempts to determine the correlation between having a Hungarian nationality and voting in favor of the UDMR, a political entity that by statute aims at gathering Hungarian votes. The author also offers a number of explanations for the diminution of the votes gathered by the UDMR in the 2004 parliamentary elections.
The Transformation of the Regional Political Arena in Romania. The Success Story of the German Forum in Sibiu / Hermannstadt
The electoral success of a political party representing a small German community in a largely majoritarian Romanian city was a great surprise in the 2004 local elections. The author explain these results by the good ethnic relations, which differ somehow from the regional pattern – a “German model” based on protestant values such honesty, order and hard working – and which bypass the tensions characterizing, for example, the Romanian-Hungarian relations in Transylvania. Another factor is the relative performance of the administration directed by the Saxon mayor of Sibiu and candidate of the German party. The economic take-off and the public investments were a success of the mayor, but finally they turned into a political gain for the German party. However, such an administrative performance would be useless in the context of consistent communitarian tensions, which could rally masses behind conflicting leaders. All in all, these factors describe an unusual electoral victory for a regional context still marked by ethnic distrust.
General Elections before the Great War
During the election campaign of January-February 1914, the debates concerning the imperativeness of amending the Constitution in order to apply the reforms of expropriation and creation of a single electoral college, announced by the National Liberal Party, became very intense. The important parliamentary elections organized in February 1914 were held with the purpose of electing the MPs that would have to make a decision about the amendment of the Constitution proposed by the Brãtianu government. The present study examines the way the two conservative parties’ organizations of the Dolj county related to the liberal reform proposals, as well as their participation in the elections of February 1914. The Conservative Party chose to reason away the very necessity of the two reforms, not because of the fact its members were backward defenders of the egotistic interests of the landowning class, but rather because of their natural predilection for restrained and gradual reformation. The Conservative-Democrat Party’s views lacked the unity of the conservatives’, generally ranging around Take Ionescu’s conditioned acceptance of the liberal reforms. The author shows, by reference to the election results, that the Dolj citizens of the time did not cast their vote on the issues at hand, but rather had a tendency to elect the representatives of the party in charge and the candidates with an important social capital.
***, Cronologia vieții politice din România, 1 octombrie-31 decembrie 2004, pp. 213-240
***, Cronologia vieții politice internaționale,1 octombrie-31 decembrie 2004, pp. 241-265
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