Boc, Emil (Romania)
Emil Boc succeeded Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu as prime minister in Dec. 2008. The former mayor of Cluj-Napoca, Boc came from a centre-right background and was close to President Traian Băsescu. Following a closely fought general election in Nov. 2008 he headed a coalition charged with tackling a severe economic downturn. Following the collapse of this administration in Oct. 2009, Boc served in a caretaker capacity until Dec. that year when he formed a new centrist government endorsed by parliament. He resigned in Feb. 2012 amid protests over austerity measures and stagnant growth.
Boc was born in the village of Rachitele, northwestern Romania on 6 Sept. 1966. After graduating in law from Babeş-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca in 1991, he taught history in a secondary school and later at the university, where he undertook further study in political science. During the mid- to late-1990s Boc combined teaching and legal practice in Cluj-Napoca and as a visiting scholar to the Universities of Virginia and Michigan in the USA and the Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium.
Boc was elected to parliament for the centre-right Democratic Party (PD) in the Nov. 2000 general election. Within 3 years he was party leader and successfully stood as the PD candidate for the mayoralty of Cluj-Napoca. He oversaw rapid economic growth in the city, winning praise from local and foreign investors before securing re-election in 2008 with 76% of the vote.
A breakdown in relations between President Băsescu and Prime Minister Popescu-Tăriceanu precipitated the collapse of the ruling Justice and Truth Alliance (forged between the PD and the National Liberal Party/PNL) in Jan. 2007. The prime minister formed a minority government consisting of the PNL and the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania. Boc remained at the helm of the PD and in Dec. 2007 orchestrated a merger with the Liberal Democratic Party, headed by former prime minister, Teodor Stolojan, to form the Democratic Liberal Party (PD-L). Boc led the new centre-right party to a narrow victory in the general election of 30 Nov. 2008.
Băsescu initially nominated Stolojan for the premiership but when Stolojan rejected the post, Boc was offered it. He was sworn in on 22 Dec. 2008, heading a grand coalition of the PD-L and the Social Democratic Party (PSD).
Boc had to confront a steep decline in Romania’s economic fortunes amid the global slowdown. Priorities included tackling spiralling government and household debt, rising unemployment and a fast-devaluing currency. Tensions within the coalition soon emerged, with the PSD interior minister, Liviu Dragnea, resigning after 12 days. Sweeping cuts to public spending, including a policy reversal on recently-promised public-sector wage increases, proved unpopular but Boc was forced to announce further austerity measures as Romania had to accept IMF support in March 2009.
Bad feeling between the coalition partners came to a head in Sept. 2009 when Boc sacked interior minister Dan Nica of the PSD after Nica accused the PD-L of plotting to rig the voting in the forthcoming presidential election. Nica’s dismissal prompted the remaining PSD cabinet ministers to resign in protest and a subsequent parliamentary vote of no-confidence passed by 254 votes to 176 on 13 Oct. resulted in the collapse of Boc’s government. Subsequent nominees for the premiership failed to gain parliamentary approval until Dec. when, following his re-election, President Băsescu reappointed Boc to head a new centrist coalition. This government was endorsed by parliament and quickly announced an austerity budget for 2010, promising tough and unpopular measures to meet IMF conditions. Thousands of public sector workers protested in the streets in May 2010 against planned cuts in pay and pension entitlements and in June, and again in Oct. 2010 and March 2011, the government narrowly survived no-confidence votes in parliament. Following further mass protests over austerity measures in early 2012, Boc resigned on 6 Feb. 2012.