The state of votes
Eyes on a royalist Romania
The return of the monarchy?
Andrea Nagy | 2012. July 02. 21:31
‘The Crown is not a symbol of the past, but a unique representation of our independence, sovereignty and unity.’ These were the words of King Michael during his speech addressed to the Parliament of Romania on the occasion of his 90th birthday. This shows that it makes sense to always show respect toward the Royal House.
While Romania does not enjoy a very positive image internationally and the country’s leaders do not bother to address the problem, it seems that the country is in a position which condemns it to be frowned upon. But let’s think of the prestige and as well the respect that having a Royal House could bring.
On the 17th of October 2011, for the 90th anniversary of King Michael, many representations – one is more sumptuous than the other – were given in his honor, and the most of the Royal Houses of Europe attended. Even the French press, namely Le Monde, paid tribute to the former king of Romania. Romania could derive some respect from that and improve the way it is perceived by other countries, derive a kind of respect which the country does not necessarily benefit of currently.
In an interview in 2007, with The New York Times, King Michael declared: ‘It was blackmail. They told me ‘If you don’t sign immediately, we will have to kill more than a thousand students we keep in jail.’ According to the Times, the communist government had threatened to arrest thousands of people and burn the country up in flames and spill blood, if King Michael didn’t abdicate; he had even been threatened with a pistol by the communist Prime Minister, Petru Groza. So it follows that King Michael has not abandoned the country when the Soviets took over; he did so only in order not to make the situation worse and to save thousands of people from the massacre with which the communist government threatened them.
Standing up to applaud the king at the end of his speech seems quite normal since he is a personality to whom Romania owes a lot, even today. In the division of spheres of influence, which was decided during the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Romania has been attributed to the Soviet zone. Also, the King was forced to leave the throne in order to protect the people of his country.
After Alexandru Ioan Cuza has been set aside in 1866 by the political parties of the era, an important diplomatic activity has developed to find a foreign prince. The search for a foreign prince had several arguments: the consolidation of autonomy, of the Nation state (created by the union in 1859 under the regency of Alexandru Ioan Cuza), the growth of European interest and willingness to stop the fight for the throne, which had eaten the political force of Romania for centuries. After the Earl of Flanders rejected the proposal of the Romanian delegation to become king, with the support of Napoleon III of France, Carol the first of Hohenzollern was chosen as the king of Romania. In this sense, we can say that the royal family of Romania is not of Romanian blood, but is foreign by excellence and that it was “adopted” by the Romanians.
To conclude, whatever the decision of the Romanian people might be in their relation to the political regime, we must move forward by supporting our ideals and by working on improving the country’s reputation in the world. As the king himself has said in his speech: ‘Tomorrow’s world cannot exist without morality, faith and memory. Cynicism, self-interest and cowardice should not govern our lives. Romania was able to advance through the ideals of great men of our history, ideals championed in a responsible and generous way.’
Alexandra Marinescu | 2012. July 01. 21:31
‘The Kings have built modern Romania in eighty years. The communists have demolished everything in forty years’ said King Michael of Romania. After being expelled from Romania by the Soviet Communists and the Red Army in 1947, the figure of King Michael is not as glorious in Romania anymore. The past weighs heavily on his shoulders. That’s why a return of the monarchy is not currently possible.
The 17th of October 2011, the 90th anniversary of King Michael of Romania, was celebrated as a national event. Well, almost. It has generated many debates and reactions among past and present political leaders.
The period of the monarchy, beginning with Carol the First of Hohenzollern in 1866, was marked by progress, prosperity and modernity. This period of glory has made Romania an economic powerhouse and a European model for the entire continent. However, after the dark period of communism, that has destroyed everything that had been built, the monarchy has no more place. Indeed, monarchy is outdated in Romania because of the rupture in the history of the country, caused by communism.
After 50 years of communism under the leadership of Nicolae Ceauşescu, it is understandable that Romanians do not want to entrust power to one man. The history of Romania in the period of communism was just as tragic as the other countries of Eastern Europe under Soviet influence, if not more. The unprecedented reputation of Ceauşescu was indicative of the terror in Romania. Therefore, the return of the monarchy is absolutely impossible. Unless Romanians, exasperated by an economic crisis that is far from complete, do not resort to an extreme act, which is unlikely.
[tip: Prince Paul of Romania=Born on the 13th of August 1948 in Paris, Prince Paul of Romania is the son of Carol Mircea of Romania and Helène Henriette Nagavitzine. Therefore he is the grandson of King Carol II and Princess Ioana Valentina Cambrino. In 1995 he married the American Lia Triff who is of Romanian heritance and has settled in Romania for good. At present he dedicates himself to the promotion of Romanian culture and values at an international level.] sent his birthday wishes to King Michael, in an open letter, accusing him of not having done anything for the people of Romania during the communist era, other than wishing the best for them on holiday occasions. These accusations are justified. Prince Paul is right to remind his uncle that freedom in Romania was in no way due to the efforts of the Royal Family, but to the young people who died for their county during the 1989 revolution, without a doubt the most bloody event in the former Eastern European Communist bloc. King Michael abdicated in 1947, after two years of coexistence with a communist government imposed by Soviet troops. It is normal that most Romanians have a hard time forgiving this error of the Royal House. So his past is not entirely honourable. Many people accuse King Michael of having left the country prey to Soviets without opposing them. That is true: King Michael was unable to avoid the tragic episode in the history of Romania, the communist era. A king, who has not been at the meetings of major historical events, has good reasons to be criticized. King Michael has missed the opportunity to build a better future for Romania whose wealth and beauty have permanently disappeared into the darkness of communism.
Strangely, today, politicians from the opposition (Social Democratic Party–mostly the PSD), value the king whereas previously they have despised him profoundly. The PSD has supported the king and asked all political parties to participate and honour by a solemn meeting King Michael’s 90th birthday. Clearly, they are using the image of a historical figure, who is unable to defend his country from external invasion, to provoke the current President. The proof: Ion Cristoiu, a great Romanian political analyst and an opponent of the monarchy, thinks that the speech in the Parliament was more like the speech of a true ruling monarch, than a message passed by a former monarch to his people. According to the sociologist, Vasile Dancu, ‘the monarchy has no future in Romania; it is no more than nostalgia of identity.’ Moreover, polls show that only 12% of Romanians would welcome the return of the monarchy.
That is a theory that while possible, seems to be difficult to implement currently. After two kings of foreign origin, Carol the 1st and Carol the 2nd of Hohenzollern, some see Prince Charles as the future king of Romania. Except that he is very fond of Transylvania and not of Romania. Yet, a prince of Transylvania is definitely not what Romanians expect, but quite the contrary. In the three departments of Transylvania, Hargita, Covasna and Mureş, where the Hungarian minority is strongly present, there are stronger and stronger claims for the autonomy of Transylvania. Given the facts, the reign of Prince Charles would only increase the desire for division and the indivisibility of the Romanian territory would fall to pieces. Prince Charles, as the king of Romania would be politically the worst mistake for the unity of the Romanian territory.
So it is too late to envisage now that the monarchy could be reinstalled in Romania. Since the fall of dictator Ceauşescu, Romania has taken the path of democracy. It is henceforth a legally constituted state that has well implemented democratic institutions which are in charge of ensuring the separation of powers and guarantee the rights and freedoms of man.
It thus appears that history must be respected but that’s all. History must be known, accepted and passed on to future generations. This doesn’t mean that Romanians, quite distressed by the crisis that Europe had to go through, must be carried away by an unjustified sense of nostalgia at the expense of democracy. Romania should under no circumstances return to the monarchy, an uncertain and powerless system of government, which was too easily knocked down by the Soviets. It is imperative for Romania to learn from its past mistakes in order to never repeat them. Only democracy can guarantee to Romania the place of a powerful state in Europe.
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