Workers in Romania are protesting for weeks now against their social democratic government. 400.000 people have joined marches against the idea of decriminalising some anti-corruption laws. The social democrats have participated in capitalist governments for many years. Proudly serving the new rich and the bourgeoisie. However their attempt to legitimatize embezzlement up to 40.000 euros, led to massive outrage. PSD leader Liviu Dragnea is already under investigation for corruption, so many see this as an attempt by the political elite to save themselves!
The ruling Social Democratic Party in Romania (PSD) is not a workers party. It was born out of the Democratic National Salvation Front, a fraction led by Ion Iliescu (an ex-Stalinist) that split from the National Salvation Front (NSF). This was the umbrella group that took political after the Romanian Revolution in December 1989. Conflicts about the direction of Romania led to the collapse of the NSF by 1993, out of which new political parties were founded. The current social democrats took their name in 2001 after uniting two center-leftist parties. They won the 2016 election with 45% of the vote. But since 39,44% came to vote (lowest voter turnout since 1989), the PSD only got 18% of the people behind them!
Romania is one the poorest nations in eastern Europe. Its economy is plagued with corruption as both capitalists and government bureaucrats enrich themselves at the expense of workers and poor. The 1990’s were a golden age for corruption. After the collapse of the Stalinist system, state enterprises and social institutions were privatized at a record rate. The market was to rule as supreme master and all were forced to obey the laws of capitalism. Most Romanians were unable to cope with a system build on greed and exploitation. 40 years of stalinism had made them inflexible and vulnerable to capitalist vultures from the west!
The republic joined the European Union in 2007. Many hoped that with EU help, corruption and poverty would end. Now after ten years this is not the case. Although government leaders speak about the union in a very positive way, ordinary workers see no improvements. Revolutionary socialists had warned that the EU is not a force for working class people. Still the media of the capitalists claim that Romania is a ‘’economic tiger’’ and great progress can be expected in the future. Workers however are waiting more then 28 years for the so called ”fruits of capitalism”. This has led to a rise in nostalgia for the days when the state offered people work, homes and meaning. Consider the fact that Ceausescu was a champion of austerity and social cuts in the 1980’s, it is remarkable that his legacy is seen as positive by so many!
There are enough political parties to choose from. However all share one vital idea, the idea that the market is the supreme economic law. Capitalism is supported by all major parties from the Social Democratic Party to the National Liberal Party, Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania, Alliance of Liberals and Democrats, Save Romania Union and the People’s Movement Party. None of these parties mentioned here are truly left-wing. This allows the PSD to portray itself as ”progressive” and ”leftist”. However the Social Democratic Party is a party of the same capitalist corruption. Still the right-wing tries to portray the PSD government as ‘’communist’’, because they know of the huge social stigma on the word: ‘’communist’’. Romanian leftists need to expose the right-wing opposition and call them out on their lies. The PSD is not a socialist party and their government is in fact pro-capitalist and anti-worker!
Although many are angry at their politicians, revolutionary socialists also try to point out that corruption runs deeper than just politics. Capitalism is at the roots of inequality and poverty. In a nation so poor as Romania, government corruption is just one obstacle. Many businesses violet labour laws and play on the weakness of the trade unions to stand up for their workers. The average income is just below 520 euros (550 dollars) a month for a skilled worker. Minimum wage is only 320 euros or 350 dollars a month. 28 years after the downfall of stalinism and the Socialist Republic of Romania, capitalism has only benefited people like Ion Țiriac, Dragoş şi Adrian Pavăl, Ioan Niculae and Zoltan Teszari. These men own together almost 3.715.000.000 dollars in personal wealth!
Socialism is the only alternative, but the deeply anticommunist media knows how to prevent a class conciseness among workers. Leftists who are anti-capitalist face a mountain of lies and distortions spread since the collapse of the Romanian Communist Party. Many right-wing commentators portray the Social Democratic Party as a ‘’red plague’’ a term used by the fascists in the 1930’s against the communist party. Therefore the left in Romania must take a firm position against these liars in the media. A workers party on a socialist program is needed the most. Here we face many stigma’s and misconceptions, since the Romanians have no idea what genuine socialism is about. People are brainwashed with a false picture by their capitalist rulers and the education system, which portrays the Socialist Republic of Romania as a ‘’communist dictatorship with a failed socialist economy’’. Children learn from a young age, that Stalinist Romania was ”socialist” and that socialism does not work!
To the left of the PSD is a small leftist party, which is however based on nationalism and elements of stalinism. The Romanian Socialist Party was created by hardliners inside the Socialist Party of Labour (1990-2003) who rejected the fusion between their party and the Social Democratic Party. At first they founded a party called the Socialist Alliance Party, which tried to become the Romanian Communist Party in 2010. When their name change was rejected by the Bucharest tribunal, the party became the Romanian Socialist Party. Their program is both leftist and nationalist, which stands in line with the Stalinist ideology of Nicolae Ceausescu. The electoral support for these leftist nationalists is very weak. Only 32.000 voted on the Romanian Socialist Party in 2016. Although critical of capitalism, we believe that this leftist nationalist party is not a socialist alternative for workers. Their Romanian nationalism is a poison and the party has shown to be positive about the Stalinist period. This cannot be accepted by revolutionary socialists, therefore the Romanian Socialist Party is not a vehicle for democratic socialism!
Leftist activists need to build on these protests against the corrupt PSD. They need to rally working class Romanians into thinking about a alternative to capitalism. Militants in trade unions should push for the formation of a new mass party of workers and poor against the Social Democratic Party. It is vital that we expose the social democrats as corrupt politicians of capitalism. Workers need to understand that the PSD is not their party. As demonstrated by themselves and their allies around the world, social democracy is by now a fully right-wing ideology. Social democratic parties in both western Europe and eastern Europe support austerity and cuts to social welfare, in the name of ”balancing the budget” which is typical right-wing talk!
A new workers party cannot be build from the top down. It must be build from the bottom up by the most class-conscious workers. This is why revolutionary socialists call on all working class Romanians to go out on the streets and fight for a socialist alternative in politics. Anticommunist stigma’s has kept the left-wing weak, especially the anti-capitalist left. Those few anti-capitalists in Romania are either anarchist radicals or old stalinists still praising Ceausescu. The fact that 60% of all voters decided not to vote in 2016, makes clear that bourgeois democracy failed fully. A new system is needed, both politically and economically. Romanian workers have nothing to lose, they have a world to win!
Proletari din toate țările, uniți-vă!