Romanian MPs bow to protesters’ wishes

Romanian MPs bow to protesters’ wishes

Romanian crowds are reviving the spirit of 1989, this time with mobile phones. Source: YouTube



The Romanian parliament has unanimously endorsed a plan to hold a national referendum on anti-corruption reforms after vast street protests have forced a series of U-turns. 

Today (Tuesday) the country’s senate unanimously endorsed the government order to scrap the decree.

The upper house backed the order by 118 votes with none opposition while the lower house, which has the final say, is to approve the withdrawal of the decree soon.

The ruling Social Democrat-led coalition holds a comfortable majority in both houses following its election victory on December 11. The coalition leaders have already agreed to withdraw the decree.
All 310 MPs present voted in favour of the proposal by President Klaus Iohannis, who has been supporting the protesters.

Iohannis, a former leader of the centre-right opposition, criticised the unpopular decree that would have potentially shielded dozens of public figures from prosecution and nullify an anti-corruption drive.

“The demonstrators are young and predominantly middle class, organising online, using humour,” said artist Andreea Chirica, 37. “They have started to think, ‘Maybe I can do something to change this country.’”

Justice Minister Florin Iordache, who designed the decree, resigned last week, arguing that he had done nothing wrong.

Many protesters described the decree — which decriminalised official corruption involving less than around US$50,000 — as a deliberate retreat from European Union standards and an attempt to shield corrupt politicians from prosecution.

The protests peaked on February 5 more than 200,000 people in Bucharest.

Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu’s Social Democratic Party (PSD) faces ongoing protests continued amid fears that fresh loopholes will be created for corrupt politicians.

Protesters beat drums, blew horns and used laser pointers across the government buildings, while chanting: “Like thieves, in the night” and “Resign”.

“I don’t want to live in a corrupt country,” said Marina Cordun, 33, as snow fell amid tumbling temperatures.

A 30-day campaign must take place before any referendum.

Romania is one of Europe’s poorest countries, despite its EU membership since 2007. It hosts Nato’s US$800-million, US-built ballistic missile site, which angered when it became operational in 2016.

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