Ethnic Conflict and Reconciliation in Post-Communist Romania

Part of the Peace Psychology Book Series book series (PPBS)


The present chapter focuses on the first ethnic conflict in post-communist East-Europe, which took place in the Transylvanian region of Romania. Violence between Romanian and Hungarian ethnics sparked shortly after the general enthusiasm generated by the removal of Ceauşescu’s dictatorship, whereas ethnic reconciliation progressed while the Romanian economy was severely deteriorating. What factors have made possible the March 1990 ethnic conflict? And how can we explain the positive evolution of the Romanian-Hungarian ethnic relationships afterward? The chapter maintains that the interaction between demographic (i.e., a relatively large youth cohort) and economic factors (i.e., severe and prolonged economic hardships) led to Ceauşescu’s overthrow. This event, together with the national ideologies that conditioned Romanians and Hungarians to fear and hate each other created a volatile psychological atmosphere that was tragically manipulated by local elites and lead to the outbreak of conflict. On the other hand, the difficult socio-economic conditions of the transition period created the grounds for essential social identity changes from mainly autarchic to strongly pro-Western. The development of a pro-European orientation during the transition period had positive effects on Romanian-Hungarian interethnic relations through several social psychological processes and raised a significant barrier against intolerance and extremism.


Romania Ethnic violence Social identity Nationalism Communism 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Teacher EducationPetru Maior UniversityTârgu-MureşRomania

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