Every six months I write a small update on Romanian politics for the Society for Romanian Studies Newsletter, under the apt supervision of Ronald Clark. This is the one for the upcoming issue:
During its first year in government, the unstable Social Liberal Union parliamentary majority remained relatively popular, despite its failure to address the urgent social and economic problems plaguing European Union’s poorest member state. That started to change in early September, when street protests erupted in Bucharest and other Romanian cities over Rosia Montana, a gold mining project that a Canadian company wants to develop in the Apuseni Mountains at great cost for the local community and negligible benefit for the Romanian state. Protesters fear that the use of cyanide in the mining project will cause severe environmental damage, and the project will result in the destruction of some villages and historical sites. Initiated almost 14 years ago, the project has been supported by a broad coalition of (delete: self-interested) politicians and journalists, including Democrat Liberal President Traian Basescu, Social Democrat Prime Minister Victor Ponta, and prominent mass-media outlets. Important politicians and public figures such as Liviu Dragnea (Secretary General of the PSD) and Danut Tiberius Epure (rector of the University of Constanta) remain embroiled in scandals exposing widespread corruption at the highest levels, casting doubt on the motives of those state officials who support the Rosia Montana project. While endorsed by scientists, civil society groups, some minor political formations, and the Romanian diaspora, the street protests failed to convince the Ponta government to kill the project. Instead, a parliamentary commission currently debates its feasibility, thus leaving open the possibility of its inception.