The frequency and size of the ongoing demonstrations in Romania in a way reflected the situation in Bulgaria, two and a half years ago, when crowds in Sofia wanted the Socialist-led government to step down. The latter is what the demonstrating masses in Romania want their Socialist government to do.
Since the protests started two weeks ago, the ruling Socialists have already reacted, since they feared they might lose power altogether if they just ignored the demonstrations:
>> A government decree, which would have decriminalized certain corruption offences, was retracted.
>> Justice Minister Florin Iordache, on of the architects of that decree, resigned on January 10th, 2017.
In the past days it became obvious that those pawn sacrifices would not change anything. Thousands of protesters went out yet again, demanding a resignation of the entire government. The crowds presumably contained some who had voted for the Socialists in the first place, but are now disappointed.
Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis, an anti-corruption fighter himself, proposed a referendum on corruption, which 310 members of parliament approved yesterday. It is unclear what exactly the question in that referendum might be. Also it remains to be seen whether that move will decrease the number of people protesting on the streets.
A few days ago, Iohannis had accused the Socialists of having caused the political crisis Romania is facing. He said, the government had to resolve the crisis it was responsible for. In return, Socialist politicians accused the President of fueling the protests. A few hundred Romanians have demonstrated against Iohannis and for the government a few times since the much larger anti-corrution protests began.
Last night in Bucharest, hundreds of inhabitants refused to be intimidated by the cold. They populated Victory Square, shouting “Resign! Thieves!” and used the lights of their cell phones to create huge Romanian flags made out of blue, yellow and red lights of displays.
Like Bulgaria, Romania became a member of the European Union ten years and one and a half months ago. According to some reports issued by the E.U. since, Romania had made more headway in its fight against corruption than its southern neighbour. The new Socialist government tried to reverse that tendency shortly after resuming power last month.
Last weekend, a small solidarity demonstration for the protesters in Romania took place in front of the Romanian embassy in Sofia.
Photo by Alejandro Ilukewitsch