1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Romanians protest plans to weaken anti-graft body

January 21, 2018

Tens of thousands of Romanians have taken to the streets in protest against legislation they believe would make it even harder to fight high-level corruption. A very short honeymoon, then, for new PM Viorica Dancila.

Rumänien Bukarest - Demonstration
Image: Reuters/Inquam Photos/O. Ganea

Despite the cold and snow, about 30,000 people demonstrated on Saturday evening in the Romanian capital, Bucharest, against the left-liberal government's latest attempts to pass reforms of the justice system in the EU country.

Protesters and riot police scuffled briefly in the capital's University Square as the march moved toward parliament, but the protest generally passed off peacefully. Protesters shouted: "Thieves, thieves!" and "Resign!" as they marched.

Smaller protests took place in Cluj, Timisoara, Constanta, Bacau, Sibiu and Iasi.

New PM, but same old problems

President Klaus Iohannis last week nominated European Parliament lawmaker Viorica Dancila as prime minister after Mihai Tudose resigned following a power struggle within the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD).

Dancila has previously defended the legislation aimed at changing anti-corruption laws, which includes reforms that critics say would make it harder to prosecute corruption at high levels of government.

New PM Viorica Dancila interviewed by reporters in Bucharest on January 17
Dancila has defended the legislation to little availImage: picture-alliance/Photoshot/Agerpres

A year on and no change

An attempt to decriminalize some cases of abuse of office set off large street protests at the start of 2017 and the ruling coalition backed down.

But in December, it used its parliamentary majority to approve a judicial overhaul that puts magistrates under political control, bringing thousands of Romanians back out on to the streets. 

Corruption endemic in Romania

Between 2006 and 2017, anti-corruption investigations led to the jailing of the former prime minister Adrian Nastase and the indictment of 20 current and former ministers, 53 deputies and 19 senators.

Corruption is endemic in Romania, which ranks 57th out of 176 countries in Transparency International's rankings of corruption perceptions.

jbh/jm (AP, dpa)