A short article I co-authored with Ruxandra Canache just appeared in E-IR. It is available at: http://www.e-ir.info/2015/02/09/romanian-democracy-at-the-crossroads/. I’m including below the first two paragraphs. We thank Raphael Mimoun for giving us this opportunity.

“By unexpectedly winning the presidential elections of 2014 Klaus Iohannis, the ethnic German Lutheran mayor of the Transylvanian town of Sibiu, gave many Romanians renewed hopes for a more stable democracy that would recognize the positive contribution of politicians representing minority groups who have pursued successful administrative careers outside of Bucharest, the country’s capital, without the backing of the corrupt power networks that seemingly tie together the Romanian political elite (Manea, 2015). The new president must meet these high hopes despite the significant institutional constraints placed on his mandate.

Romania and Bulgaria joined the European Union in 2007, three years after other post-communist countries were accepted. The delay reflected the inability of those two laggard countries to fulfill key accession criteria that would align them with other Union members from a political, economic and social viewpoint. Entry was followed by the introduction of a new mechanism for the continued monitoring of these countries’ progress in adopting crucial reforms after their acceptance into the European club. While the Union officials have recognized Romania’s progress in implementing the necessary reforms, reputed analysts warned that changes were skin-deep, therefore unable to align the country with other member states (Gallagher, 2009). Those predictions have been borne out by the increased polarization and fragmentation registered since Romania joined the Union. During the past seven years, Romania’s democracy has proven exceedingly unstable institutionally and culturally.”