Romania celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the fall of communism in late 2009 but it took another three years for its lower chamber of parliament to pass a lustration law banning former Communist Party cadres, ministers, political police chiefs and detention centre heads from holding public office.
The law, which had already been passed by the upper chamber, the Senate, in 2006, now needs presidential approval before coming into force. All current high-ranking officials will be required to declare whether they held important positions under the 44 years of communist rule between 1945 and 1989. The ban on holding office runs for five years.
The passage of the law on Tuesday was not greeted with much enthusiasm in a country where surveys have found that nostalgia for communist times is on the increase. Former opponents of the Ceausescu-led regime also criticised the law. “It is too little, too late, as the law has more of a symbolic role,” Teodor Maries, leader of an organisation of victims of the communist regime, told Balkan Insight.
A previous version of the lustration policy temporarily restricting the former nomenklatura from public office was struck down by the Romanian Constitutional Court last year. Former president (1990-1996 and 2000-2004) and honorary president of the Social Democrat Party Ion Iliescu led the opposition to a law that he described as Stalinist and anachronistic.
Tuesday’s parliamentary vote means the 82-year old former politician, a Communist Party Central Committee member until his marginalisation in 1984, risks losing his chairmanship of the 1989 Romanian Revolution Institute.