Protesters wave flags during mass protests against government corruption. Bucharest, Romania, February 2, 2017. (Vadim Ghirda/Associated Press)

Romania has long been considered an outlier among European post-communist countries. It had the only violent transition to democracy in the region, but it also enjoys one of the lowest electoral volatility levels, with its political system characterized as extremely stable based on the longevity of its parties.

Elections in December 2016 returned power to the Social Democrats, who have dominated Romanian politics for the entire post-communist period. With a comfortable majority, the new government did not generate initial signs of popular unrest. On the contrary, it was able to quickly implement a large set of measures aimed at simultaneously increasing spending and cutting taxes.

Nevertheless, it is in this setting that Romania has seen its largest protest movement since the 1989 revolution, both in duration (demonstrations started on January 18 this year) and participation (up to half a million people have taken part). Read more