Society Factors in the Rule of Law in Romania
There are social and economic factors which have a direct impact in the way a country implements and follows a culture of rule of law.
Low trust economy / low trust society
Francis Fukuyama in his book Political Order and Political Decay is describing the development of democracy in various countries, he is talking about the United States, Britain, China, Greece, Nigeria, Italy. The two countries most similar from his case studies to Romania are Greece and Italy which are also quite close geographically.
There he is talking about a low trust economy – a type of society where one can trust the most his family and close relatives but does not trust his neighbours, even less people coming from another city, the same goes for state representatives or government agency people.
This is very similar to what is happening in Romania, on a central level, but mostly in the descentralized, regional and local levels of society. This type of economy or better social order is detrimental to economic development as we know it from developed countries, businesses tend to be small and passed down from generation to generation, they avoid consolidation in a bigger corporate entity, they also prefer running a small business by themselves than developing into a bigger enterprise which will be controlled in cooperation with others.
A low trust society also favors clientelism and patronage, in both public and private affairs. One example can be the tendency of a small town mayor to politicize the hiring of teachers in the schools from that community, also the directors of the schools will be very close to the mayor, the mayor will feel as his duty to personally select the school director and the school director will feel that he needs to be very close to the mayor in order to keep his job.
In a private enterprise goes the same way, let’s say there is a big automotive company opening up a factory in the country and is hiring as managing director a local competent businessman. He will be looking to build a network of trusted suppliers which will help each other, usually the suppliers will be run by his close friends or by former colleagues from his last job.
The suppliers will have more business due to the personal connection to the managing director of the factory, they will also feel responsible for keeping a good relationship, and make sure there are no problems. These economic relations tend to distrust competitors or any kind of new technology or new development which do not involve the direct partners. They also have a tendency of focusing on their own income much more than the economic stability of the business, set very high wages or buy goods and services at higher prices from the trusted supplier.
Education and highly skilled labor
Another important factor is education and labor skills. In a QS University ranking from June 2021 Romania did not have any University in top 1000 in the world. What are the effects of this in general society and impact for the Rule of Law.
First this means that Romanian Universities do not produce very highly skilled people for the job market, usually companies tend to avoid countries which do not have very good schools. When the country lacks in school quality, then there will be a poorer market for ideas, fewer entrepreneurs and fewer local businesses in general.
This lack of quality in higher education has an important impact in migration, very good high-school students who can afford will go for university degrees in other countries. Likely they will remain there even after finishing their studies – this will intensify the process of brain drain – a process where the most talented students and young professionals from a country are leaving that country.
There are other consequences to that:
One of them is that a low percentage of people from the country will earn a decent living with their own skillset and through a good, high-paying job. A recent statistic showed that only around 1% of hired people in Romania have net salary of above 3000 euro per month, and only about 10% have a net salary above 1000 euro per month, so most of the labor market is made of very low salaries.
This will drive highly ambitious individuals but with lower business expertise to avoid the regulated job market and try to make a living outside that, either on a black market or through corruption or tax evasion.
Another outcome of the lack of quality in higher education is the competence of the government workers and of politicians in general.
Most of the political leaders in Romania from today were formed and educated during the transition era after the fall of communism in 1989. Very few of them have a higher education from another country.
As some international Rule of Law Indexes are showing Romania is ranking low on corruption within the legislative branch. Somewhere along the same lines with Serbia, but also Namibia or Ghana. This means that the quality of the legislative branch is very low.
There is a high number of people who choose to enter into politics and subsequently become candidates for parliament who choose this a main career. Their hopes for politics is also related to advancing on the social elevator, using their elected function to become rich, as their competency on the normal job market is very low.
Overall both the low-trust society and the low quality of education have a harmful impact on the Rule of Law and the subsequent development of the country. There are solutions to change these, but only very slowly and step by step, usually the more each generation is exposed to examples from other societies the more they will look for a change in their own.
Youtube Video in Romanian: https://youtu.be/TTRMDHxmdmk