Policy brief #60 (English): The Political Economy of a Constitutional Crisis

What lies behind Romania’s bitter power struggle of spring-summer 2012? The economic crisis is not particularly dramatic in Romania, a country sheltered by its high underground economy and intense labor migration from the crisis-related unemployment which hurts other European economies. This policy brief argues that the political capture of the state, manifested in the intense politicization of administration, discretionary lawmaking and favoritism in public resources allocation is accountable for Romania’s acute constitutional conflict. The European Commission contributed to the crisis by pressing for high level corruption cases to be prosecuted and sentenced in order for Romania to prove it has graduated from a captive state to the rule of law. This disrupted domestic long term power arrangements, reliant on chronic state capture, and set in motion a dramatic conflict for controlling the powerful anticorruption agency, DNA. Who loses the impeachment referendum on July 29th, 2012 is therefore threatened not only with defeat, but also jail.