What is the name of the initiative?
Romanian Youth for a Better Future
Who are the promoters? How old are they?
University students, fresh graduates and volunteers, mostly aged between 18 and 29
Where do they implement their actions?
When have the initiatives started?
Their activism started around 2013 and it is still ongoing.
THE CONTEXT: what was the challenge the activists wanted to address?
Corruption can infect every part of a society, and if left to fester will spread along with political apathy.
In the case of mining at Rosia Montana, back in 1989 land at Rosia Montana was sold to the Rosia Montana Gold Corporation and permission was given to mine there. This all happened until suspicious circumstances, where it was thought that the Romanian government (former secret police) had illegal connections to the owners of the company. Additionally, the Romananian government owned shares in the company. The mine also posed a threat to the environment, as cyanide was proposed to be used to separate gold and silver from the earth.
The Colectiv Revolution started following a fire at the Colectiv nightclub in Bucharest. The mayor of the district had awarded the club a licence that indicated that it had been inspected and approved for fire safety, when it had not. The subsequent fire left many dead or permanently injured. Many other buildings had similarly illegitimate licences.
The 2017-2019 protests started in response to government reforms under Sorin Grindeanu’s Social Democratic Party. These reforms would decriminalise abuse of authority. When the first wave of protests ousted Sorin Grindeanu, the next government under Mihai Tudose later began to pass unpopular judicial reforms. Protests then again lead to a change in leadership. The last government during these protests under Viorica Dăncilă was also opposed primarily for their corruption.
Who was primarily affected by these issues?
Both the people of Rosia Montana and the people trapped inside of the Colectiv nightclub (as well as their friends and families) are of course the greatest victims of these abuses of government power. But that is not to say that corruption will not continue to affect people in similar situations in similar ways. Abuse of government power undermines all Romanian’s liberty and prosperity. When the government does not obey its own rulebook, all Romanians and everything they own are not safe. In this way, corruption threatens the whole of society… you cannot be sure that police will not demand bribes, you cannot be certain that you will receive a fair hearing in court, and you cannot be certain that someone will not take away your property. And when society punishes good behaviour and rewards bad crime, there is little incentive to be good to others. Corruption is very dangerous to societies because it is very dangerous to each individual person. We are all affected by the challenge of corruption.
THE INTERVENTION: What initiatives were then promoted by the Romanian Youth for a Better Future?
In all cases of modern Romanian youth activism, the tactics involved both online and offline coordination. Social media and news sharing sites were phenomenally powerful tools to spread awareness of the events which triggered public backlash. In the case of the Colectiv nightclub, the terms #Colectiv and #ColectivRevolution spread and became the brand of the protests. A similarly adopted slogan was the phrase “Corruption Kills”. These two words spoke to the truth of the issue, and it was self-evident why it mattered.
The online campaigns quickly developed into street protests, of a magnitude that was un-ignorable.
What are the outcomes and results of these initiatives?
The struggle for a fair and free Romania has been fought over many battles. Activism rarely, if ever solves a problem overnight. However, the protests in Romania since 2013 have all made a difference. The fight over Rosia Montana has been fought since 1989 in some form or other. However, only since 2013 have we seen results. In mid-2020 Rosia Montana is currently being reviewed to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which would protect it against any future mining.
The Colectiv Revolution and the 2017-2019 protests produced results far sooner. The prime-minister and mayor of the district of Bucharest where the Colectiv nightclub was based both resigned following the Colectiv Revolution. Also better practices were put in place to regulate building safety. The 2017-2019 protests saw the end of three political leaders, and in the process stopped their plans.
Why are these initiatives considered successful? What consequences can be clearly identified thanks to them?
The immediate objectives of all three movements were met. Rosia Montana is protected from future mining, better safety regulation and practices came in following the Colectiv Revolution, and various politicians were ousted during the 2017-2019 protests, putting an end to their plans. In this way all are considered successful.
However, particularly during the fight over Rosia Montana and the 2017-2019 protests it was not always clear that they would be successful. They demonstrate that perseverance and patients may be required to get the change that you want. Even more so, they show that victories do not always stay won, and so success comes with persistence.
Romanians in the last decade have successfully taken on the challenge of corruption. But there is still more to do to make Romania freer and more prosperous.