In late January, Romania’s parliament approved Viorica Dancila as the nation’s first female prime minister—and the third prime minister in just the past year. The same ruling coalition has overseen a period of political turbulence driven by the largest wave of popular protests in Romania in a quarter of a century. In an email interview, Silvia Fierascu, a research fellow at the Center for Network Science at the Central European University in Budapest, discusses the ongoing political tensions, the balance of power and the role of international actors.
WPR: What do the recent political battles that ultimately resulted in Dancila’s appointment as prime minister represent, in terms of the various forces arrayed in the government and the opposition, and the visions for Romania they offer?
Silvia Fierascu: There are currently two forces with independent visions of Romania battling for supremacy and political control. On the one hand, there is the ruling coalition government, comprised of the Social Democratic Party, or PSD, and the Liberal Democratic Alliance, or ALDE. This coalition is unquestionably dominated by the Social Democrats. The party expressly advocates a populist agenda, rules using patronage and clientelism, and is rapidly trying to develop a politicized bureaucracy and judiciary. On the other hand, there is the opposition, backed by European institutions, which at the moment does not have a viable alternative governing agenda. But it does advocate and support the rule of law, separation of powers, the independence of the judiciary and the professionalization and modernization of the bureaucracy.