The return of Ion Iliescu

Most governments in transition countries had little to do with the economic growth during
their mandates. Since the post-communist economies were distorted and in need of substantial
structural reforms, the typical indicators of growth were as likely to show the lack of reforms as
their presence, while the beneficial effects of painful policies, when they were implemented, may
have appeared only after a certain period of time, often longer than an election cycle.
This is a very important point for the democratic accountability in the East-European societies:
if the public discussion is muddled and voters cannot make the right connection between cause
and effect, then accountability is weakened, good policies are not identified and rewarded, and
incentives for political professionalization are low. Keeping the country on the right course
depends in such cases only on the determination (and even selflessness) of its leaders, who are
taking risks without knowing for sure if they would be able to reap political benefits before the
following ballot. Their values, character and agenda become all the more important in such
Therefore, a comparative analysis of the three main stages in Romania’s post-communist
political history – the era of pains without reform under the first full mandate of president
Iliescu (1992-1996); the era of painful reforms under the center-right coalition (1997-2000); the
era of harvesting the benefits of reforms under the PSD government (2001-2004) – offers a good
basis for bulding scenarios for Romania 2005-2008. All we have to do is look back at the
proven track record of each of the main political actors in order to judge their professionalism
and leadership quality.