Romania #REZISTS is the conclusion of the press in the country and of the most important international publications, after over two weeks of protests.
Romania #REZISTS is the conclusion of the press in the country and of the most important international publications, after over two weeks of protests that brought hundreds of thousands to the street. Last Sunday alone, Bucharest’s Victory Square was filled with tens of thousands of protesters, and many Facebook users changed their profile picture to the same message. According to France Presse, less than a month from being sworn in, the Social Democratic government has caused a popular protest without precedent since the fall of communism in 1989. The same agency writes: “Blue, yellow, red: tens of thousands of protesters on Sunday formed a huge Romanian flag, illuminated by mobile phones, demanding the resignation of the government, which it accuses of undermining the fight against corruption.”
Political analyst Cristian Parvulescu believes that Romanian indignation has a new beginning: “Romanian indignation seemed to fizzle out after Colectiv, and it looked like the elements that granted it coherence had started to weaken. However, the mistakes made so fast by the Grindeanu Government, the Social Democrats and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats have managed to stir it up again. This is surely a new actor that has to be taken into consideration by the traditional parties. You cannot govern with 600,000 in the streets, and this 19th century idea that Parliament can do everything is very dangerous. Parliament is an important institution, but you cannot reduce democracy to Parliament. As long as the government is not open to accepting the plurality of opinions in society, protest movements will continue.”
Writer Nora Iuga joined protesters in Victory Square from day one: “Ever since the Social Democratic Party leader took the stage and generated this entire situation, I realized that we are in a very dangerous dead end. However, it is wonderful that this has sparked a spirit of freedom, justice and civilization which mostly the young people, but not just them, even older people, show to the rest of the world, not just to us, who had ceased to believe that we still had such qualities. I am happy to discover a Romanian society that I had ceased to believe in, a civil society that we have been craving since the Revolution. A society that in the years of communism seemed to had died for good, but look at the extraordinary occurrences today. People around the country are already a growing core of civil society, and this is extraordinary.”
Writer Radu Vancu believes that, in addition to the pragmatic gains, such as the withdrawal of Ordinance 13 and the resignation of Justice Minister Florin Iordache, one great achievement of the constant rallies is a culture of protest developing in Romania. It is a culture of protest resulting from the large number of people in the street, in spite of the fact that they had differing political options.
Radu Vancu: “There are people out in the streets who voted with the left and the right, and people who are politically neutral. There are also people who didn't go to the polls, but who militate for the same values. For the first time in Romania, after more than two decades, appeared values that have united a crowd beyond political divisions, and this is a great gain, because we had lost solidarity. The second important moral gain is the way in which Romania is now seen around the world. I am not just talking about articles in the western press praising Romania, but the comments on their on-line pages, depicting Romania as an example and exporter of democracy.”
Razvan Martin, with ActiveWatch, believes that the massive protests these weeks have proven that the fight against corruption is on the citizens' agenda, and that significant progress has been made in this respect: “I believe that this is the greatest achievement, the fact that society is starting to react, that citizens discover their power, that individuals become citizens, that the citizens can organize into communities and become aware of their power, of the fact that together they can say no. I believe that these movements have started to form as early as 2011 or 2012. They did not have much success because protests were small scale and were about issues that were not so visible on the public agenda. As I was saying, the public muscle has been worked out and flexed over a long period of time. Now it shows its strength.”
Another great gain these days, according to literary critic Luminita Corneanu, is the fact that the people in the street have made their voices heard, and that their perseverance has forced the government to react: “What in my opinion is the most important thing, maybe even more important than concrete short term gains, is the fact that we have rediscovered ourselves, we have rediscovered self-confidence, in the primal mechanisms of democracy, the relation between voters and election winners, between citizens and those delegated to lead. The images of protests in Bucharest that have circled the world filled our hearts with joy and confidence, and Romania and Romanian citizens are being given as an example to Americans and Brits, as to 'this is how it’s supposed to be done'. This has not happened before, and this is why I think it so important, we have found out how strong we are and how important it is to stick together and make our voice heard.”
Here is actor Tudor Aaron Istodor, one of the hundreds of thousands who took to the streets: “I think a new voice has emerged, that of the street. I don't believe I am manipulated, I don't belong to a political party, I am on neither side, but when I saw something wrong, any kind of abuse, I felt the need to take to the streets like all other citizens. So I was the crowd plus one, and I believe that it was important that we were so many who saw something wrong that had to be made right. And things have been made right, so that was a gain.”