It’s not common for a country such as Romania to attract the attention of the international. Night media in the way it has done in the last month. Unprecedented protests saw thousands Romanians go out on the streets frequently both at night and during. The day in spite of the frigid temperatures and snow, averaging more than 600,000 people on the 5th of February.
This day was crucial because of the people’s constant participation. The government has reversed a law, Decree 13, that could have weakened anti-corruption laws, and made it much simpler for corrupt officials and politicians.
But is there anything more to it? Following the U-turn of this government Romanians are still unsure and anxious. While the Romanian parliament has ratified an open referendum that was initiate by Klaus Iohannis, the President of Romania Klaus Iohannis as a tool to demonstrate support from the public for anti-corruption legislation but it is not enough to calm those insisting that such moves should never happen again.
A Deep Discontentment With The Night Elites
Decree 13 actually triggered an underlying issue inside Romanian society. It has been view as a symbol for everything that is wrong in Romanian politics, beginning by expressing a deep discontent with the political elites.
Romanians are angry at the government, which was constituted in the beginning of January by a coalition between Social Democrats (Partidul Social Democrat, PSD) as well as a center-right liberal party (Alianta Liberalilor si Democraticilor din România, ALDE). The present PSD chief, Liviu Dragnea, who is serving a suspended prison sentence could have profited of the legislation.
In the days when people walked their streets in the early days, one of the famous message was Stop stealing at night like thieves!
The meaning of the slogan is that it conveys the underlying issue of the law. It was enact by the emergency decree at night on January 31, despite the president’s objection and interfering, completely ignoring several protests that were held days earlier and repeatedly calling civil society groups against the law. It was a complete surprise after years of a robust legislation designed to combat corruption.
The topic’s sensitive nature and the apparent arrogance displayed by the PSD-led government when it adopted the decree secretly created the perfect combination to spark an already vibrant movement of protests and anger.
Romania’s Unstable Night Society
Protests have been a regular event in post-communist Romania. People protest in January 2012 to protest the austerity drive, in September 2013, against the gold mining project in the lead-up to 2014’s second round of president elections, and in 2015, in protest against then-prime minister Victor Ponta, who was accuse of corruption and was held accountable for a devastating fire which killed 64 youngsters in a nightclub.
The protests at the root of Romanians discontent of their political institutions and their representatives. The two main institutions that are the political parties and the parliament have the lowest levels of trust when compared with all other institutions.
Over the last decade public trust has not exceeded 15%, and can sometimes fall to the low of 6percent. Politicians are consider to be the main source of corruption. Which changes other important areas of everyday life like the health care and education system.
A Split Electorate
The protests provide a legitimate reason to attack the PSD who claim. That protesters don’t value the results of the election on December. When the PSD won more than 40% of the vote and that a majority of those in the streets didn’t vote at all.
Although there isn’t a method of measuring the sociological percentage of anti-PSD voters. It is evident that the voter turnout was not high. The lowest participation (less than one-third) seen among 18- to 34-year olds, who were well represent in the demonstrations. Turnouts that are low tend to favor those with a steady and loyal electorate , like PSD’s.
Anti-PSD Night Voices
In this regard the majority of anti-PSD voices are focus on PSD voters. And blame them for the manner in which their party conducts itself. The anger of those who oppose PSD Romanians who are younger, more educated, and richer and more educated contrasts. With those who vote PSD older, less educated and less money.
The first feel PSD that the PSD voters are easily manipulate. Inexperienced and incapable of comprehending the actual issues Romanian society is confronting. A few of the major media outlets create this kind of cleavage within Romanian society. By delivering controversial messages regarding the other side, according to their political inclination.
For instance, TV news channels that support PSD PSD (such like Romania TV or Antena 3). Broadcast conspiracy theories, claiming the protesters paid for by foreigners. With a focus on George Soros (known for his support for various democratic movements across Eastern Europe). While another side asserts that PSD is under the control of violent people.