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Europe

'Cancerous corruption in Romania'

Romania's Prime Minister Victor Ponta has resigned. This is a new beginning, but the country still has an ailing political system, says Romanian journalist Vlad Mixich in an interview with DW.

DW: Mr. Mixich, Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta has resigned. "I don't want to fight against the people," Ponta said, referring to the protests all over the country, after the tragedy at the nightclub "Colectiv" in Bucharest that claimed more than 30 lives. Is his resignation enough?

Vlad Mixich: Yes, it is. But, unfortunately, it's also too late. Over the last few years, Victor Ponta was involved in many big scandals: His doctoral thesis was plagiarized, many ministers appointed by him were accused and condemned for corruption. He himself is under corruption charges. In fact, it's amazing that he even managed to keep his position this long. He refused to resign many times, even after millions of Romanians voted against him in last year's presidential elections. 25,000 young people went out in the streets and a tragedy with 32 dead were needed to make Mr. Ponta step down.

It is a victory of the so-called "Facebook generation". Today, on the same social media platform, people ask for a "complete reset of the system," including new parliamentary elections) Do you think this is going to be a new beginning?

Vlad Mixich Journalist Rumänien

Romanian journalist Vlad Mixich

The "Facebook generation" is accusing the whole political class in Romania - and it is right to do so. Many highly corrupt officials are coming from all the parties and many decisions in parliament were taken in spite of the people's will to see more efficiency and accountability and less incompetence and corruption in government. But it is impossible to change a political elite overnight. What the Romanian politicians should learn after these protests, and they will learn it the hard way if nothing else works, is that they cannot ignore the scrutiny of this young generation of Romanians, who are EU citizens, well-educated and widely traveled - and who know how to find, handle and communicate information.

Romania will have parliamentary elections next year. To organize them earlier will not trigger much change and people in the street did not ask for that. They asked for respect and accountability from the whole political class, not from only one party, and shouted: "Corruption kills."

Is there any chance to fight corruption in Romania at the moment?

Yes, there is. In the last few years, Romania has witnessed many spontaneous protests generated by social media. People would not take to the streets if they didn't believe that they can trigger change. And this is the main change in Romania now: People are seeing prime ministers, ministers and mayors in jail for corruption. This is unique in Romanian history. The most powerful politicians have never been behind bars without a violent revolution before. People are beginning to feel what the rule of law means. And when you see the most powerful politicians, coming from all the parties, punished for their deeds, something starts to change in your mind. There is a silent and peaceful revolution happening right now in Romania. And it's a powerful one.

You are a journalist as well as a medical doctor. What is your diagnosis for the Romanian political system?

The Romanian political system suffers from cancerous corruption. But there are antibodies fighting against it. They are out in the streets, they are on Facebook, and their numbers are growing.

Vlad Mixich is a Romanian journalist, political scientist and medical doctor. Among other publications, he is currently working for the Bucharest-based independent news site hotnews.ro.

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