Bucharest, Romania—Romania and many European countries are living in times of an unprecedented crisis. Politics of economic austerity combined with populist and nationalistic rhetoric occurring in a constant realm of corruption have increased the growing distance between citizens and authorities throughout the continent. Street protests in various countries showed the level of popular disenchantment with a political system made to reduce the citizens to simple tools used only for electoral purposes. Police brutality and repression have been the answers to street protests in Valencia, Athens, Bucharest, Moscow, and beyond.
In Eastern Europe, the 1989 revolutions failed in actively engaging citizens in politics and led to a sense of exclusion and lack of representation for the masses. Small elites gathered the political and economic monopoly, and gradually excluded citizens from policy making.
In Romania, ever since Jan. 13, citizens of various socio-economic backgrounds are gathering daily, and demonstrating in streets and squares. Their voices, shouted and sung in incredibly cold temperatures going as low as -4°F, displayed a high disenchantment with an entire political class that has ignored their interests and demands for over 22 years. The economic crisis has divided even further the society and the political class, making the citizens feel unrepresented. They are now demanding their voice be heard.
Under these circumstances, the protests in the University Square (Piata Universitatii) are a proof of normality. The protests belong to the citizens who feel ignored and unrepresented. The peaceful demonstrations symbolize the freedom and solidarity between the citizens of Romania. As ordinary citizens, we have been building a peaceful mood among the crowds at University Square, and a determined solidarity towards democratic values.
We were happy to see increasingly more people, considering that Romania’s problems are profound, and go beyond simply sanctioning the current government which should be removed. Such problems involve an entire political class who have distanced themselves from the citizens through top-down politics, elitism, corruption, and a general lack of transparency.
We in the square do not want only the removal of the temporary power-holders, but we actively desire an important change in the rules of the political and social game. Corruption, nepotism, and clientelism must be completely eliminated in order to regain the rights acquired in 1989 and to actively engage the society in the political life of the country.