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The ‘People Question’

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Chapter Summary

The Romanian provisional government of 1848 steered clear of universal suffrage, but practised a type of plebiscitary and ritualistic politics which secured it wide popular support throughout the events of 1848-9 and even beyond. Moldo-Wallachian pamphlets at the time imported and disseminated French theories of the contractual nation and the 'sovereignty of the people', in practice the electorate remained limited and universal suffrage was only adopted in 1918. The June Days in Paris and the aborted work of the Property Commission in Bucharest in August 1848 are only two examples of how the 'people' was 'betrayed' by its intellectual leaders in that crucial year of European history. The land law of 1864, which made peasants legal owners of their lands, failed to pre-empt the fragmentation of plots through inheritance and the gradual deterioration of peasant lives.

Keywords: Moldo-Wallachian; peasant; Romanian provisional government

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