Romania. In a report, the European Commission expressed doubts about the independence of the Romanian judiciary, but former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase was sentenced to four years in prison at the beginning of the year for corruption. His wife and two former ministers also received prison sentences. That was Nastase’s second corruption judgment.
In January, the Constitutional Court rejected a new law that would give the president and the elected officials freedom of corruption. In February, the chief of the Financial Supervisory Authority was arrested on suspicion of corruption and abuse of power. The same month, President Traian Băsescu was sentenced to fines for derogatory statements on Roma.
According to Countryaah.com, Romania population in 2020 is estimated at 19,237,702. More and more of Romania’s poor Roma came to Sweden during the year to seek work or beg. Swedish politicians criticized Romania for not using EU funds for the development of Roma communities. Requirements were made for EU directives that give the beggar’s home country responsibility for creating decent living conditions. Sweden suggested that an expert group should monitor the use of EU funds against poverty, but Romania said no.
In February, the government crisis erupted when the liberal PNL (National Liberal Party) left the coalition. The Social Democratic Prime Minister Victor Ponta then took the Hungarian minority party’s UDMR (Hungarian Democratic Union) into the government and thus won a vote of confidence. Ponta was thus considered to have a mandate for economic policy that would guarantee EUR 4 billion in support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This included, for example, the sale of state-owned enterprises, budget cuts and tax increases. Ponta’s antagonist, President Băsescu, resisted, but then agreed to approve government policy and the IMF settlement.
Romania’s tense relationship with Hungary worsened when the government in March banned Hungarian nationalists, including the Jobbik party, from entering Romania. They would celebrate Hungary’s National Day with the Hungarian minority, but the government labeled them as extremists and feared unrest.
The NATO country Romania was affected by the crisis in neighboring Ukraine. Romania increased its defense funding and urged the US to increase its military presence in the Black Sea region following the Russian annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. The United States sent 175 new Marine Corps soldiers to the 500 already in Romania. In May, US Vice President Joe Biden visited and assured the country of US support.
The EU elections in Romania differed from a number of European countries in that the nationalist Great Romanian Party received low support, almost 3%. The election was won by Ponta’s government alliance with half of the 32 seats. The opposition leader resigned since PNL made a bad choice, and new PNL leader became Sibius Mayor Klaus Iohannis. PNL then merged with another liberal party, the PDL (Democratic Liberal Party), under the name Christian Liberal Alliance (ACL).
In June, the Chamber of Deputies voted down the Canadian company Gabriel Resources’ plans to open Europe’s largest gold mining quarry in Transylvania. The Senate had rejected the proposal the year before.
The conflict between the government and the head of state worsened when a majority in Parliament demanded the resignation of President Băsescu. By then, Băsescu’s brother had been arrested for bribery and conspiring with a murdered mafia boss. Băsescu denied knowledge of his brother’s actions and refused to resign.
A trial of genocide during the Ceausesque regime began in July. It was the first indictment of its kind after the fall of communism in 1989. It involved an 88-year-old former prison chief who was accused of participating in the deaths of a group of prisoners in the 1950s and 1960s by battering and starvation.
After several years of growth, the economy returned in the first half of 2014. Exports were hit by the Ukraine crisis when the Russian Federation stopped its import of beef and cattle from Romania. In order to create growth, the government decided to lower the employer’s contribution, but the IMF warned of an unsustainable loss of income. In July, the President sent the bill back to Parliament, but in September it was again voted on and could take effect. The government promised that the budget deficit would not exceed the year’s limit of 2.2%.
According to a report by the Council of Europe, corruption is slowing developments in Romania, and the black economy is considered to be close to 30% of GDP. The tax fraud is estimated to be almost as large as the tax collection, equivalent to about SEK 365 billion. Ahead of the November presidential election, the government alliance appointed Prime Minister Victor Ponta as its candidate. He was considered a victor when he was opposed to the opposition candidate, PNL leader Klaus Iohannis, who belongs to the German minority. But the election became a political earthquake. Ponta clearly won the first round but lost sensationally in the decisive, as turnout increased sharply.
Iohannis won with just over 54% of the vote against just under 46% for Ponta, who in the election movement was forced to defend against corruption charges. The downturn in the economy and the budgetary tightening in recent years were also in the barrel. Iohannis received strong support in the big cities and from the many Romanians abroad who objected to their voting being hampered in the first round.
Despite the loss in the presidential election, Ponta remained as head of government. Instead, two foreign ministers resigned in close succession following criticism of the election campaign abroad. The Hungarian minority party’s UDMR left the coalition, but Ponte’s government still held a majority in parliament.
The newly elected president promised to fight the country’s severe corruption and make Romania more attractive to foreign investment.