The political economy of transformation in Romania, 1989-2001
The end of communism in Central and Eastern Europe and the choice for a market economy and democracy by these societies was the beginning of a vast process of change that affected all aspects of social life. In spite of the simultaneity of these changes, and the general realisation that integrative approaches are needed to do justice to this complexity, most scholarly analyses remain confined within existing disciplinary boundaries such as Economics and Politics. In this thesis, reflexive theories in Economics, Politics and International Political Economy are used to derive a set of working hypotheses about the relationships between the economic and political spheres, domestic and international. These hypotheses are then used to illuminate the empirical case of marketisation in Romania. The dominant neo-Iiberal explanations about the meaning and direction of postcommunist changes created a hierarchy of performance (i.e. conformity with the neoliberal ideals) between the countries of CEE. In this reading, Romania was a laggard in 'transition' and this was attributed to the incomplete democratisation of the political system and the neo-comrnunist and nationalistic ideology of the 1990-6 governments. The analysis proposed in this thesis challenges this simplistic explanation and the content and pace of economic reforms in Romania are linked to four factors. These are the fragile political consensus around reform; the structural power of industrial interests and their ability to co-opt factions of the political elite; the weak institutional basis; and the cultural gap between the expectations of the public and the requirements of a market economy.