This essay presents a critical account of the social and political history of postcommunist Romania from the time of the violent overthrow of Nicolae Ceauşescu’s communist dictatorial regime in 1989 to the writing of the essay in 1995. King Michael chronicles the processes through which power in Romania following 1989 was quickly seized by representatives of the former Communist Party and the communist secret police (Departamentul Securităţii Statului or Securitate). Led by Ion Iliescu, a former communist leader and one-time protégé of Ceauşescu, a powerful group of politicians came to dominate the National Salvation Front, an originally anticommunist political organization that held power following the coup. Through manipulation of the media and voting processes and imposition of a flawed new constitution, Iliescu ensured the ascendancy of his Party of Social Democracy during the first half of the 1990s. The essay critiques the course of events and laments the faltering pace of both economic and political reform resulting from the stagnant Romanian political situation and the persistence of former communist leaders in government. Additionally, although not as its central focus, King Michael argues that a restoration of the Romanian monarchy could help to stabilize and improve the country’s political fortunes.

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