After Romania’s government bows, protesters call for resignations
In Romania, five consecutive days of protests forced state officials to repeal a decree that would have weakened corruption laws. Today demonstrators are calling for resignations. Diego Cupolo reports from Bucharest.
Call for resignation
In February, the Romanian government bowed to protesters' demands, saying it would repeal legislation decriminalizing certain forms of corruption, but demonstrators said the move is not enough. "Now we’re asking for the government to resign," Mihai Oprica, 31, an IT manager pictured above. "[These protests] can stop if they cooperate. If not, we will continue coming out every day."
"We woke up"
Since the controversial decree was passed, more than 300,000 people have demonstrated nightly in cities across the country, with 150,000 gathering in Bucharest’s Victoria Plaza, shown above. Protesters chanted "We woke up" through the evening and many expected the largest demonstration yet to take place here on Sunday night, when citizens from rural areas will come to Bucharest.
"No way, no escape"
"No way, no escape," reads a sign in Victoria Plaza. "Even if they cancel the decree, how do we know they won’t try to pass another one next month?" asked Dan, 36, a state employee. "We have no trust in the government and they should understand that there [are] enough honest citizens that will make sure the law is followed."
Human chain around the parliament
Tens of thousands marched to Romania's parliament building to create a human chain around the complex, which has a perimeter of about three kilometers. One of the protesters on site, Christian Nadu, 32, a corporate project manager, said, "By surrounding the Parliament, we are making a statement that this is our house, not theirs, and we’re taking over."
Easement on corruption
The one-month old cabinet of Romania’s Social Democrat party (PSD) sparked the revolt by passing legislation that made official misconduct punishable by prison time only when financial damages exceed 200,000 lei (44,000 euros.) The measure would have ended the ongoing trial of PSD party leader Liviu Dragnea, who is convicted of electoral fraud, and was largely seen as a self-pardon.
"Go home forever"
Sorin Taban, 53, a technical manager from Bucharest, holds a sign reading, '1: Cancel Ordinance. 2: Go home.' He said he would not be satisfied until the PSD cabinet resigns. "The people have so little while politicians have big mansions with swimming pools and billions of euros in foreign banks. This kind of old communist leadership must go home forever!"
Protest of historic proportions
The ongoing anti-corruption protests are the largest demonstrations in Romania since 1989. "Before this, people didn’t go out to protest because they thought they couldn't change anything," Nadu said. "This is the media's fault. The state channels have always suppressed big movements. Now the Romanian people know they have power and they will not forget this."
What does victory look like?
Florin Luca, 31, a telecom project manager (not pictured above) said the end goal for protesters should be installing an independent judiciary. "The government was trying to shut the mouth and break the arms of justice and we would lose everything we built over the last ten years. We need a judicial system that stands independent of political parties."