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Romania’s ‘Arab Spring’


Demonstrators show their frustration in the streets

“These days, when I drive through the city, I see old people begging at every stoplight. That’s because pensions have taken a hit”

 

Unreported by most the UK media until lately, Romania has been experiencing its own ‘Arab Spring’,  as its long suffering people eventually say “enough” to the actions of the Boc government, its increased taxation, decimation of welfare services, alleged corruption of its politicians, and presidential party political interference.

Romania, the second poorest nation in the European Union has really suffered as the Europe’s financial crisis hits ever harder. The conditions of the IMF loans negotiated since 2009 don’t just mean belt tightening, they  mean mass unemployment and emigration, radical increases in taxation, the reduction of health, social and welfare services,  poverty and pain for the elderly, the sick, the poorest and those in greatest need.

The catalyst for the recent unrest was the forced resignation of Dr Raed Arafat, the highly regarded and much respected Secretary of State for Health, who rejected the details of a bill that would have privatised and all but destroyed emergency medical services. Dr Arafat was subsequently, publicly castigated and humiliated by the President’s personal telephone intervention during a live televised interview.

Spontaneous demonstration of support sprang up in Bucharest, Arad, Timisoara and Cluj. Over the last eleven days of demonstrations across the country, the government’s security officials have allegedly resorted to placing agitators in the crowds of tens of thousands as a pretext for using the Gendarmerie to violently put down otherwise peaceful and good-natured protests. Here in the UK, a crowd of over 250 reported joined their countrymen demonstrating in solidarity outside the Romanian Embassy in London.

Raed Arafat has been constrained to return to his post to “help draft new legislation”; however the demonstrators’ motivation has moved on and sentiment now seeks the removal of Premier Boc’s unpopular government through early elections and the end to an unconstitutional proposal to hold both local and parliamentary election on the same day later this year. A Special Session of Parliament has been called for Monday 23rd January to debate the crisis

It has been suggested that Gerry Mander may now be live, kicking and in residence in the presidential Cotroceni Palace and the government’s Palatul Victorie.


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