Year: 2024

Authors: Cristian Ghinea, President of NGO ‘O Țară ca Afară’, Coordinator of the public policy department at Union Save Romania (USR) and Maria Ionescu, Vice-President of NGO ‘O Țară ca Afară’,

Recent years have seen a deepening crisis of liberal democracy in Europe, exacerbated by the rise of populism, posing challenges to the political narratives of EU member states. This paper examines Romania’s evolving political landscape, once considered an exception in the region but now witnessing concerning shifts towards undemocratic practices. In 2021, a coalition of socialists and conservatives seized power, introducing changes that echo Viktor Orban’s system and, to a certain extent, Vladimir Putin’s regime.

The paper analyses the disregard for civil society, meddling intelligence services, media independence infringements, and aggressive intimidation of the democratic opposition through the selective use of the judiciary. The conclusion underlines the decay in Romania’s hard-won democratic foundations, whilst the absence of institutional balance hampers the fight against corruption, fostering public distrust in the justice system. As Romania faces multiple challenges in 2024, the paper calls attention to the urgency of addressing these issues to prevent irreversible damage to the country’s emerging democracy.

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