Protests against abuse of power continue in Romania.
Eastern Europe is no stranger to government corruption, yet Romania seems to have reached its limit. When the newly-elected government of Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu tried to pass an executive order that would decriminalize official corruption for sums under 200,000 lei (around $48,500)—more than six times the average salary in Romania—people took to the streets immediately.
Protests against the measure quickly grew into the largest public upheaval since the fall of the communist regime under Nicolae Ceausescu in 1989, with Reuters estimating at least half a million demonstrators across the country.
With the country’s chief prosecutor at the National Anticorruption Directorate currently leading a 220-strong team to investigate over 2,150 abuse of office cases amounting to a total of $1 billion, the people’s outrage against the decree is hardly surprising. Despite the withdrawal of the directive and the resignation of Justice Minister Florin Iordache, who was one of the architects of the executive order, the protests continue, calling for the resignation of Grindeanu’s cabinet.
On February 18, parents braved the cold to participate in the children’s protest on Bucharest’s Victory Square, and the following day thousands more continued to hold their vigil, now in its 20th consecutive day.
Having forced a government resignation in 2015, following a nightclub fire that killed 30, the power of the people is once again on the rise in Romania.
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Photo Credit: Grosescu Alberto Mihai