Romania mourns death of its king without a crown

Romania is mourning the death of a king who reigned for just a few years: under pressure from the communists Michael I was forced to abdicate in 1947, and lived as a normal citizen until his death at the age of 96. Tens of thousands of Romanians attended his funeral on Saturday. Does the general mourning over his passing symbolise the Romanians' desire for their country to become a monarchy once more?

Open/close all quotes
Ziare (RO) /

Time to rethink the state system

Romanian MPs have called for a referendum on the restoration of the monarchy. For journalist Iulian Leca of the news site Ziare a vote has certain advantages:

“The last 28 years have shown that the current constitutional structure of the state leads to major blockades between the legislative and the executive, between the president and government and parliament, or, like now, between the judicial and political powers. ... Of the almost 160 years that have passed since the unification of the Romanian principalities, 81 were under the rule of the monarchy. It's no mere coincidence that those years were among the most peaceful and harmonious in our history. ... Even if the proponents of the republic were in the majority in the vote, at least that vote would have the advantage of establishing a new social contract between the citizens, the state and the ruling class.”

Baricada (RO) /

Yearning for the times before democracy

Writing in her blog with Baricada, journalist Maria Cernat can only shake her head at the fuss being made over the funeral of Michael I, which was attended by many European aristocrats:

“The bad news is that the conservative institutions are regaining power in Romania. The Church, the army and the monarchy have presented themselves in a wonderful PR show. And we well-educated, civilised Romanians are moved to tears at the thought of these reactionary, backward-looking institutions. The heroes of the French revolution would no doubt turn in their graves at the sight of this retrograde parade for anti-democratic institutions. ... We shouldn't be surprised that illiberal democracy with its holy traditions, anti-feminist, anti-progressive, anti-judicial stance and its leaders appointed by none less than God himself is knocking at our door. Saudi Arabia, here we come!”

hvg (HU) /

If only the country were like its former king!

King Michael personifies just the sort of dignity and integrity that Romania's divided society so longs for, Hungarian-born Romanian journalist Boróka Parászka writes in the weekly paper hvg:

“Romania's culture of memory is full of ruptures and contradictions. But as regards the public assessment of King Michael a consensus has now been found: he is the man who wanted the country's good. ... He was the Western-oriented regent of a country wedged into Europe's eastern half, an aristocrat who maintained his dignity throughout his entire life while Romania so often lost its dignity . ... But if there was a dignified, strong and good king, there must also have been a dignified, strong and good country. This hope has now become apparent in the three days of national mourning that have moved the entire country.”

Ziare (RO) /

Orphaned nation longs for a statesman

An unfulfilled political longing is behind the Romanians' mourning, journalist Ioana Ene Dogioiu writes on the news website Ziare:

“My gut feeling tells me that the Romanians were above all honouring a symbol: that of a leader who was above day-to-day events; a statesman who served his country. ... The large attendance at the funeral was the outcry of a nation that doesn't feel politically represented, that no longer has any point of reference in politics, and that doesn't trust its leaders. A nation that in a way feels orphaned. The man who gave them that point of reference has now passed away. It took the Romanians some time to grasp that the return of the monarchy in the 1990s would have been good for the country. Now it's too late.”

Adevărul (RO) /

The Romanians always react too late

And theatre expert Doru Pop wonders in his blog in Adevărul why it's only now that the people are expressing their love for the former king so openly:

“The burial of King Michael has also illustrated a certain 'quality' of our society, namely retrospective thinking. All of a sudden the Romanians have discovered their fondness for the monarch, although King Michael had been exiled, ignored and marginalised for years in the past. The Romanians never wake up before it's too late. This inability to make the right decision at the right time is a hallmark of our society and history. ... Because we never look ahead, we're incapable of anticipating events or preparing long-term plans and projects.”