chapter  4
24 Pages

The European Union and Romania: the politics of constrained transition


The post-communist political transition in Central Europe has been the subject of nearly continual debate among scholars interested in the process of democratization during the course of the past ten years. Analysts have argued over such issues as the importance of institutional versus cultural factors, the impact of the character of the transition, and the relative weight of internal and external variables in shaping democratization. If anything has become clear through the accumulation of comparative research, it is that the processes involved are highly complex, and that uni-dimensional approaches fail to provide adequate explanation of outcomes. This chapter examines the role of the European Union’s (EU) efforts to promote democratization in Romania’s post-communist transition. It argues that the European Union, along with other international actors, has in fact exerted substantial influence over the direction of Romanian domestic politics. This influence, however, must be seen as one element among many that have interacted to produce what has been a particularly problematic road toward democratic consolidation. In particular, the circumstances of the immediate post-communist transition, the political configuration that this produced, and Romania’s distinctive political culture stand out as key factors in the transition process.