Democratic accountability in Romania

Over 300.000 people took it to the streets Saturday evening in protest against the Romanian government. You can read a lot about the background story in the international media. In a nutshell, the government introduced an executive order that would decriminalise some form of corruption. Public officials who would take bribe amounting to less than EUR 45.000 would not be criminally prosecuted. Instead, they would face charges in a civil court, if caught.

Even some members of the ruling party declared that this is an outrageous proposal. The protesters demanded the order to be repealed and the government to resign. The order was repealed today in an extraordinary session but the protests are announced to reach record number today, despite the government taking a step back.

There are several reasons why the protests might not calm down. One of them is that only 3 weeks into the governmental mandate, backed up by an impressive popular vote for a party in Romania, the Grindeanu cabinet resorted to pushing unwanted changes that jeopardise the normalisation of an inefficient and highly corrupt public administration. Instead of focusing on important matters, like education, health care or improving the Romanian business environment, the government decides to use the power they have to facilitate corruption.

This shows that the government cannot be trusted because it has a hidden agenda of protecting the corrupt politician at the expense of the public good.

They went ahead with the executive order because they didn’t expect the resistance they are facing right now. As I said before, the short period of time since the popular vote made them confident that dissent would be fairly minimal.

However, the young generation in Romania is dissatisfied with politicians and they are closely following the developments. This is an amazing thing for politics and Romania should be happy that it has an active young generation that is ready to sanction any sideslip.