Protests continue against corruption in Romania

 

Protests continue against corruption in Romania

By
Peter Schwarz

4 February 2017

Tens of thousands have been taking to the streets each day in Romania to protest against a relaxation of anti-corruption laws.

On Tuesday evening, the government used an emergency decree to implement legal changes protecting corrupt politicians from prosecution. It also submitted a law to parliament that would grant amnesty to criminals who have been sentenced to less than five years in prison. As a result, several politicians sitting in prison for corruption will benefit.

There were fierce protests on Wednesday in the capital Bucharest and 55 other cities. According to the police, some 250,000 people participated in the demonstrations, while others put the figure at 300,000. The protests continued on Thursday and Friday. According to participants, the protests will continue for 10 days. The new regulations will then come into force, if the government does not retreat.

Corruption is endemic in Romanian politics. Many leading politicians are under investigation, have criminal records or are in custody. According to the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA), there are currently 2,150 facing charges of misconduct in office. Those affected include not only the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD), but also all the other bourgeois parties.

The protests are only superficially about corruption, which is seen especially by younger representatives of the middle class as an obstacle to their own social advancement. Behind this is a power struggle within the ruling elite that has been raging for years over foreign policy orientation and the allocation of sinecures.

NATO member Romania, with its proximity to Russia and border with Ukraine and the Black Sea, plays a key role in the efforts of the…

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