Are Romanians nostalgic about Communism?

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Well, it depends whom you ask, as the Romanian society is quite divided. A recent survey carried by INSCOP Research on 1,055 participants reveals this split in opinions:

  • 45.5% of respondents believe Communism was a good thing for Romania
  • 44.7% believe Communism was bad for Romania

The majority of people (44.4%) believe that living standards were better under Communism, while only 33.6% believe life was worse under Communism. People who are nostalgic about Communism generally tend to be older (above 50 years of age) and less educated. Coincidentally, the region that feels the least nostalgic about Communism is the region where the anti-Communist revolution of December 1989 started: the Western Banat region (Timișoara is the main city in this region, and also the place where the anti-Communist movement started).

The results should not be surprising to anyone, given that the grave of dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu in Bucharest has become a place of pilgrimage for the nostalgic, and his birth place in Scornicesti has been turned into a national museum.

Ceausescu's grave
Ceausescu’s grave

I will attempt to provide a few simple explanations for the current situation:

  • The Capitalist regime, with its free-will principle, is making Romanians very anxious. In Communism, your life as a citizen of the republic would be laid out for you by the Party: someone else took the major decisions for you. What you studied, where you worked, where you lived, and even what you could watch on TV, read or buy were all decided by the Party. For some people, this is the equivalent of pure bliss, as they do not have to make any important decisions in their lives.
  • What followed after Communism in Romania was not Capitalism, but a long period of transition, with many economic, political and social disillusions, and a lot of instability. It can be argued that this is still the case today.
  • People’s memory is short and subjective. Many do not remember the years of hardship (particularly the 80s), or tend to remember only certain (happy) moments.
  • Romanians, as a nation, do not value entrepreneurship, free thinking, and initiative, because they have lived for centuries under various foreign rulers, where they were forced to adapt to the circumstances. You can see it today, by listening to how the media or the people typically refer to entrepreneurs. (we use the somewhat pejorative term of “patron” to describe an entrepreneur, which suggests between the lines that the person is exploiting the workers).

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