Romania. In April, Romania, together with Bulgaria, received the EU Parliament’s accession to the EU in 2007. But before that, Romania must further reform the judiciary, fight corruption, cut government subsidies and secure the rights of the Romanian minority, otherwise the EU entry may be delayed by one year.
At the end of the year, a currency reform was implemented, when four zeros were removed from the currency lei. The exchange rate against the euro was previously 36,000 lei, but after the reform it was 3.6 lei. Romania hopes to introduce the euro by 2014.
According to countryaah, Bucharest is the capital and one of the major cities within the country of Romania. The spring flood hit southern Romania hard, and thousands of people had to be evacuated from their homes as the Timiş River flooded its banks. The devastation was the worst in 40 years. During the summer, Romania was haunted by repeated storms and heavy rains with floods. The natural disasters took a total of about 40 people’s lives.
In July, Prime Minister Calin Popescu threatened Tariceanu to resign, after the Constitutional Court stopped a law that would allow the government to dismiss former employees in the judiciary to be able to make new appointments in order to fight corruption. According to the EU, entry into the Union would be delayed one year if the reform was not implemented.
In the devastation following the floods, however, Tariceanu decided to stay at his post to lead the reconstruction work. In August, he made extensive government reform in an attempt to speed up reforms.
In October, bird flu was detected in some villages in the Danube Delta. Tens of thousands of poultry were killed, hunting and markets were banned and the population of the area was vaccinated. Tests showed that it was a dangerous virus form H5N1, which can spread to humans and which previously required fatalities in Southeast Asia.
At the end of the year, there were reports that the United States had detained suspected terrorists imprisoned in Romania, which was denied by President Traian Băsescu. When US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Romania in December, an agreement was signed that gave the US permission to establish military bases in the country. It was the first similar agreement between Washington and a former communist country in Eastern Europe.
Klaus Iohannis becomes new president
At the November 2014 presidential election, Social Democratic Prime Minister Victor Ponta voted as a candidate and received 40 percent of the vote in the first round. Together with Klaus Iohannisfrom the National Liberal Party, which gained 30 percent, he went on to the second round. It was surprisingly won by Klaus Iohannis, who received 55 percent of the vote. The turnout was 64 percent. Iohannis (Johannis in German) belongs to the now very modest German minority in Romania, and many considered it unlikely that someone who was not ethnic Romanian could win a presidential election. After the election, the Hungarian party UDMR withdrew from the government. In the most compact Hungarian-language parts of Romania, about 80 percent voted for Iohannis in the second round of the presidential election and only about 20 percent on the Ponta coalition partner. Klaus Iohannis took office as President on December 21, 2014.
Popular protests against corruption culture are becoming a political force
Ponta continued as prime minister until November 2015. The departure was not due to a vote of no confidence or new elections, but came after a large number of youths were killed in a fire in a club room in Bucharest, and large street demonstrations subsequently accused the political system of a culture of corruption. Contributing to the departure were also dissatisfaction with Ponta’s unwillingness to resign on previous occasions, such as when it was shown that parts of his doctoral thesis were plagiarism (2012), or when corruption investigations were initiated against him (2015). The great dissatisfaction with the “political class”, a phrase widely used in the many demonstrations in a wide range of cities, led President Iohannis suggested a government that had not left the parties but should have their support.
New Prime Minister from November 17, 2015 became Dacian Cioloș, former member of the European Commission and partyless. The government consisted of professionals (“technocrats”) in various disciplines, not by leading party politicians. It received a vote of confidence with a large majority in parliament and aimed to prepare and sit for the next ordinary parliamentary elections in the fall of 2016, while intensified fighting against corruption was high on the program.
The 2016 election
In the parliamentary elections, held on December 11, 2016, turnout was low, at only 39.8 percent. The Social Democratic Party (PSD) got the largest support with 45.6 percent of the vote, the National Liberal Party got 20.2 percent. In third place came a new party, the Union Save Romania (Uniunea Salvaţi România, USR) with 8.9 percent. It has marked itself as an anti-system party with a desire for openness in politics, the fight against corruption, the stronger development of business, the bureaucracy, the commitment to viable local communities. It is a supporter of the EU and NATO. Many of its members are relatively young and well educated.
After the election, a coalition government was formed by the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (Partidul Alianța Liberalilor Demi Democraților, ALDE), a smaller party led by former National Liberal Prime Minister Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu). Prime Minister became the relatively unknown Sorin Grindeanu and not the leader of the Social Democrats, Liviu Dragnea. He could not become prime minister because of a 2001 law prohibiting sentenced prisoners from sitting in a Romanian government. Dragnea had a conditional prison sentence from 2016 for fraud in a referendum in 2012. Another case against Dragnea was concluded in May 2019 with an unconditional prison sentence.