Romania, 250,000 Protesters against Government Corruption

Yesterday more than 250,000 Romanians protested in every city of the country against the government and several of its recent legislative initiatives, which seek to justify high-level corruption.

The protests, which are among the largest since the fall of communism, started immediately in the entire country as soon as the government hastily approved a law which punishes corruption only when the financial damage is higher than €44,200.

Although the legal proposals have been discussed during recent weeks in the Romanian parliament, the new government that was formed after the elections in December decided unexpectedly to pass the law late on Tuesday night.

The new changes proposed by the law will certainly favor Liviu Dragnea, the leader of the Social-Democratic Party (PSD), which is currently in power. He is the President of the Lower House of the Romanian parliament.

Dragnea has been accused of abuse of office and corruption for a sum of more than €26,000. He received a probational sentence in April 2016 of two years, but he continued his political career.

In a joint statement, the USA, Germany, Canada, Finland, the Netherlands, and France have declared that the Romanian government is undermining “progress on rule of law and the fight against corruption over the past ten years.”

During a press conference on Thursday, Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu and PSD leader Dragnea stated that

We took a decision and we will continue with it. The party assured me that we have their support to continue with our plan.

Grindeanu’s is the third Romanian government within the last two years.

The Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, whose role is mainly ceremonial but who is widely respected, has asked the Constitutional Court to dismiss the law. He openly supported the calls for protest and called the day the law was approved in parliament a “black day for the rule of law.”