Romanian protestors victorious as govt withdraws corruption law

Thousands of people gathered in Bucharest to protest the government's controversial bill, 3 February 2017, (c) Robert Ghement

The Romanian government has withdrawn a controversial corruption decree after five days of mass protests across the country.

The decree, due to go into effect on 10 February, would have decriminalised offences for conflict of interest, work negligence and abuse of power cases in which the financial damage is valued at less than $48,000.

The left-wing Social Democrat (PSD) government insisted that the people had been “misled” and “misinformed” about the new law and that it was intended to lower the country’s prison population.

However hundreds of thousands of protestors accused the government of “lying and cheating” and said the measure would entrench corruption in the country. Furthermore, the law would have benefitted Liviu Dragnea, President of the Social Democrat Party, which recently took power.

Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu said on Saturday that he did not want to divide Romania and would call a Sunday Cabinet meeting to scrap the law, which was passed without debate in parliament on Tuesday.

The decision has been hailed as a victory by protestors and anti-corruption NGOs.