On the weekend of June 3-4 a meeting of GAS (Group for Socialist Action), which participates in Internationalist Standpoint, took place in Bucharest. During these 2 days, three discussions took place.
Situation in Romania
The first one was about the political situation in Romania, the ongoing workers’ struggles and the tasks for GAS. From the end of 2020, a “grand coalition” is in place, involving the two “big” parties of the ruling class, the “social democratic” PSD and the traditional liberal PNL, together with right-wing Hungarian minority party RMDSZ. The existence of the grand coalition was a solution of necessity for the ruling class. It would prefer a more stable two-party system where the two major parties (PSD and PNL) alternate in power continuing the same policies in favour of big capital. But they could not achieve this because all the parties are splinter parties of the FSDN, the party that was in the forefront of capitalist restoration after the collapse of the Ceausescu regime in 1989.
Also, the political establishment is completely discredited in the eyes of big layers in society. Indicative of this is that only 32% of the electorate voted in the last parliamentary elections in 2020 and just 51% voted in the 2019 presidential elections. But because there is no mass left-wing party that can represent the working and popular classes, the party that is rising in the polls is the far-right populist AUR, which gets up to 20%. AUR is racist and nationalist and has links with the neo-Legeonarians (the Legionaries were the name of the mass fascist party in Romania in the 1930s).
Today the three-party government is facing a very serious test. The long strike by teachers and other education workers who are demanding increases in wages and overall spending on education. The teachers’ unions have rejected the government’s proposal for two one-off bonuses in the year and are demanding real increases that address inflation which is officially at 13% but on items like food is over 19%. The teachers’ strike serves as an example for other sectors of workers. Rail unions are holding protest rallies and warning that they will go on strike if wages are not increased. Nurses and other categories of public sector workers are moving in the same direction.
Intervention of GAS
The second discussion focused on strengthening the work and intervention of GAS which has made significant steps forward in just 7 months since its foundation in November 2022. In this period GAS has had a presence and intervention in the teachers’ strike rallies; the railway workers’ mobilizations; the feminist mobilizations on March 8; has joined other organizations in rallying in solidarity with the Palestinian people; in social movements such as the one for the right to housing and against evictions. At the same time, the initiative of GAS to establish open “Study Groups” where political issues are discussed from a Marxist perspective has been well received in Bucharest and other cities. These groups are mainly attended by young people, but also some older workers. For more than 30 years, anti-communism has been the official ideology of the state. Also, a significant part of the population is hostile to the idea of socialism because they identify it with the dictatorial regime of Ceausescu. At the same time, a significant proportion of young people, both students and workers, are turning back to Marxism in order to find answers to the deadlocks created by capitalism.
How to counter the rise of fascism
The third debate, an open event in the context of the Study Groups organized by GAS, was an open event on the rise of fascism in Italy and Germany in the 1920s and 1930s and the struggle against fascism and the far right in Romania and internationally. The event was attended by many people who are not members of GAS and raised many questions and concerns about the historical part but especially about today. In Romania fascist organizations are trying to organize and grow stronger using anti-communism as their main vehicle. For example, in mid-June they call for a meeting to commemorate the “1989 Revolution”, i.e. the overthrow of “communism”. It was noticeable that a fascist group associated with football hooligans made posts on social media in which they threatened GAS that they would break up the open event. Nothing of the sort happened but this is indicative of the dangers that exist.
A total of more than 30 people participated in the three discussions, both in person and online.