Romanian government to repeal law which decriminalises corruption

In 2015, 27 officials, including then prime minister Victor Ponta, faced justice.

The leader of Romania's ruling Social Democrats (PSD) said yesterday the government might withdraw a corruption decree that has triggered massive street protests and global condemnation since its approval earlier this week.

Eight people were injured during clashes late Wednesday.

Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu said the government would hold an emergency meeting Sunday to withdraw the decree, which has sparked the biggest protests in Romania since the end of communism in 1989.

What do we know about the decree?

Earlier, Justice Minister Florin Iordache said he stood by the law, defying strong criticism from home and overseas and days of massive protests.

The decree would decriminalise abuse-of-power offences in which the sums involved are less than 200,000 lei ($63,000). Liviu Dragnea, is the 54-year-old leader of the ruling Social Democratic Party who keeps a tight grip on Romania¿s biggest party that easily won December parliamentary elections.

Others due for release include elected officials and magistrates.

Mr. Iohannis, who was elected in 2014 as the first president from the country's German-speaking minority, called Tuesday a "day of mourning for the rule of law".

On Thursday, a minister resigned after the situation. Romanian media reported on Thursday that he had handed over his duties to his deputy until 7 February.

"If they can issue a law overnight they can do it again", she said.

What has been the response?

President Klaus Iohannis announced he will take the decree to the Constitutional Court, the last legal resort to stop the law by the ruling center-left Social Democrats, whose leader, Liviu Dragnea, is among those with a corruption conviction.

This was barely a year after public anger over a deadly nightclub blaze, blamed on corrupt officials turning a blind eye to fire regulations, drove the PSD-led government from office. "Am I going to tell him his father was a coward and supported actions he does not believe in, or that he chose to walk away from a story that isn't his?"

"Our chances are small but it is important to fight", said architect Gabriela Constantin.

Juncker on Wednesday said he was watching developments with "great concern", warning that the fight against corruption in Romania "needs to be advanced, not undone". He asked Dan to send him a report about the way the protest was policed. Some threw bottles, firecrackers and stones; police sprayed tear gas. Four of those, two riot police and and two demonstrators, were hospitalized with minor injuries.

  • Jon Douglas