Witch-Hunt or Moral Rebirth? Romanian Parliamentary Debates on Lustration

Article (PDF Available)inEast European Politics & Societies 26(2) · May 2012with 251 Reads
DOI: 10.1177/0888325411403922
Abstract
Lustration was not legislated in Romania to date, but it was discussed by deputies and senators of all ideological persuasions, especially from 2005 to 2007. Declarations delivered in front of the house, interventions during debates of lustration-related draft bills and contributions to a parliament-sponsored public discussion reveal that for Romanian legislators lustration can bring about moral cleansing and a break with the past, provide retributive justice for victims of communism, facilitate elite replacement, prevent future violence, and help countries enjoy the benefits of European Union accession, although it punishes valuable individuals, runs against European values, is impractical and unconstitutional.
  • ... This is, however, an artifact of restricting the search for personnel transitional justice to the term 'lustration' and its derivatives. In fact, purging the state apparatus of members of the former author- itarian regime and their collaborators is called by different names in different parts of the world, from the general "vetting," "purging," or "house-cleaning" to specific terms, such as "de-nazification,""de-communization," or "de-ba'athification." See Mayer-Rieckh and De Greiff 2007;Ellis 1996;Letki 2002;Volčič and Simi´cSimi´c 2013;Stan 2013;Stan and Nedelsky 2015. 17 To see this most clearly, we refer to the readers to Figure ?? discussed in section 3. ...
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    Can transitional justice enhance democratic representation in countries recovering from authoritarian rule? We argue that lustration, the policy of revealing secret collaboration with the authoritarian regime, can prevent former authoritarian elites from extorting policy concessions from past collaborators who have become elected politicians. Absent lustration, former elites can threaten to reveal information about past collaboration unless politicians implement policies these elites desire. In this way, lus-tration laws enable politicians to avoid blackmail and become responsive to their constituents , improving the quality of representation. We show that whether lustration enhances representation depends on its severity and the extent to which dissidents-turned-politicians suffer if their skeletons come out. We also find that the potential to blackmail politicians increases as the ideological distance between authoritarian elites and politicians decreases. We test this theory with an original personnel transitional justice dataset covering 84 countries that transitioned to democracy since 1946.
  • ... There are many retrospective or backward-looking arguments in support of lustration, ranging from victims of spying having the right to know who informed on their activities to the authorities (Stan 2012) to the need to prevent former spies and their leading officers from playing key roles in public service (Nedelsky 2013). Yet some scholars dismiss transitional justice for this retroactive character and argue that " living well is the best form of revenge " (Halmai, Scheppele & McAdams 1997). ...
  • ... PSD is the party that is the successor of the Romanian Communist Party ( Gherghina et al. 2011) and was created from FSN (National Salvation Front-Frontul Salvarii Nationale), an umbrella organization created after the 1989 revolution. It is an internally created (Duverger 1964) political party, most members being former communist party members and second echelon leaders (Stan, 2012). PNL is a historical political party, revived in 1990. ...
    Research
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    A complex legislation governs the establishment and the functioning of political parties in Romania. It is an outcome of the negotiations between political parties. This paper will focus on the laws that ensure the creation, dissolution and internal organization of political parties in Romania. This is followed by an account of the consequences and a description of the political parties selected for this study. We claim that political parties in Romania are highly centralized, with a leadership that dominates the organization. Recent changes of legislation and experimenting by political parties are aimed to democratize the institutional framework and bring the voice of the grass roots party members into the decision-making process.
  • ... PSD is the party that is the successor of the Romanian Communist Party (Gherghina et al. 2011) and was created from FSN (National Salvation Front-Frontul Salvarii Nationale), an umbrella organization created after the 1989 revolution. It is an internally created (Duverger 1964) political party, most members being former communist party members and second echelon leaders (Stan, 2012). PNL is a historical political party, revived in 1990. ...
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    Stenograma sedintei Camerei Deputatilor din 14 martie 2006, Monitorul Oficial al Romaniei, partea a II-a (24 March 2006).
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