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  • In early 2017, Romania’s Prime Minister suddenly passed an executive order that made

  • it almost impossible to convict high level officials for abuse of power.

  • He said that the law was a way to ease pressure on the country’s overcrowded prisons, however

  • critics accuse him of using it to free some of his political allies from corruption charges.

  • After news broke, thousands of Romanians poured into the streets in the country’s largest

  • uprising in nearly three decades.

  • Europe is generally seen as an example of fairness and transparency in government, with

  • countries like Denmark and Switzerland consistently ranking among the least corrupt.

  • However in much of eastern Europe, including Romania, bribery and other forms of corruption

  • are still a part of daily life.

  • So, why is there this discrepancy?

  • Well, much of Eastern Europe was either part of or aligned with the Soviet Union.

  • This meant that these countries had centralized economies, where everything from production,

  • to prices to individual incomes was controlled by the state.

  • In economies where everything is equal, incentives for demanding and offering bribes is high,

  • as it’s often the only way to function as a business.

  • This culture of corruption was only exacerbated under soviet-era dictators, who built loyal

  • regimes that ruled long after the Soviet Union fell.

  • To understand how this works, look no further than Romania, a country that was communist

  • for more than three decades.

  • This started in the aftermath of World War Two, when the Soviet Union took the country

  • under its wing as a satellite state.

  • In 1965, Nikolae Ceausescu (nee-kohl-EYE-eh chow-oo-SHEHS-koo) took over and although

  • he distanced the country from the USSR, he created his own, more repressive, brand of

  • communism.

  • Ceausescu transformed Romania into an industrialized, closed-off economy, resulting in a nearly

  • 10 percent drop in economic growth, widespread unemployment and extreme shortages of food,

  • energy and other necessities.

  • Meanwhile, he became a brutal and oppressive dictator, enforcing strict controls on media

  • and opposition and ordering the arrest, torture and execution of thousands of people.

  • This eventually culminated in a violent revolution and coup d’etat and in 1989, Ceausescu and

  • his wife were executed.

  • Romania then began to make democratic reforms.

  • But Romanians failed to see that Ceausescu was only the tip of the iceberg.

  • During his reign he built a huge, politically like-minded regime, which for more than a

  • decade after the revolution, maintained a major stake in politics.

  • Although Romanians had gotten rid of Ceausescu, they hadn’t purged his foundation.

  • So many of the same abuses of power continued.

  • This problem was not uncommon among post-communist states in Eastern Europe.

  • Perhaps counterintuitively, Romania’s transition to a free-market also opened up opportunities

  • for foul play.

  • During the process of privatization, corrupt relationships formed between politicians and

  • corporations, leading to bribes and kickbacks.

  • What’s more, many members of the elite were able to hold on to wealth and power by laundering

  • money and rigging elections.

  • After the Soviet Union fell, many countries established democratic institutions, but they

  • failed to get rid of corrupt individuals and norms, which in some cases continue today.

  • In fact, many of Romania’s modern politicians are former communists or have connections

  • to the communist party.

  • With abuse of power so deeply rooted in its history and culture, rooting it out completely

  • may take more than a revolution.

  • And even with its enduring legacy of corruption, Romania is still far cleaner than this country,

  • which consistently ranks as Europe’s most corrupt.

  • Want to know more?

  • Check out this video.

  • Thanks for watching Seeker Daily!

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In early 2017, Romania’s Prime Minister suddenly passed an executive order that made

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How Communism Breeds Corruption

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    quirer posted on 2017/02/19
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