Romania’s new kids on the block

Interview with Claudia Ciobanu.

A new party is born in Romania, grounded in years of civic struggle against government abuse and the failures of a neo-liberal state. Can Demos follow in the footsteps of Syriza and Podemos?

Andreea Petruț and Claudiu Crăciun are members of Demos, a new civic platform – soon to become political party – in Romania that has an explicit social and ecological agenda. Petruț and Crăciun are both political scientists and civic activists.

For the moment, Demos functions as a civic platform bringing people together to debate and organise around the values of democracy and solidarity. The platform also serves as an „antechamber” for a party that is planned to be officially registered in the next couple of months.

openDemocracy: Why is Demos necessary in Romania?

Claudiu Crăciun: Socio-economic and ecological issues were systematically sidelined during the transition. This has led to enormous inequalities and disparities which, if left unaddressed, will bring us to a critical stage.

Demos are among the first to bring up questions that can no longer be ignored in our society: what shall we do about unemployment and precarious labour, about the disastruous state of the education, health and social assistance systems, environmental degradation, institutionalised racism?

Romania has reached a point where it seems to function out of inertia, without questioning fundamental issues. This is turning us into a country whose citizens want to leave and where elites turn predatory. The role of Demos is to confront the Romanian society with its real problems, even if this is irritating. We want to break economic and political taboos.

oD: Why a civic platform first and not directly a party?

Andreea Petruț: Many in Romania are reluctant to be political, so we wanted to give people the option of being involved even without committing to a political party, for example by taking part in our discussions and actions or in building our public positions. Some of those people will join the party: the platform will serve as a very large and open antechamber for the party.

Additionally, we think that in order to implement our political agenda, we need both channels: the political party and civic activism in support of our values.

One of our goals is to establish a new type of political organisation in opposition to the cartel party. This means, among others, a more horizontal structure and deliberative decision-making, gender parity and representation for vulnerable groups.

The values we stand for (democracy, equality) we also adhere to internally. And we have launched a ”Demos School” which means we will be engaged in a continuous process of self-education and open discussion.

Read the rest of the interview on the Open Democracy website here:

https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/claudia-ciobanu/romanias-new-kids-on-block

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