Saturday

16th Feb 2019

Romania to hold corruption referendum

  • Tens of thousands have protested against the government's efforts to water down anti-graft legislation. (Photo: Paul Arne Wagner)

Romanian MPs have backed a proposal for a referendum on how to fight corruption, after two weeks of mass protests against the government's efforts to water down existing legislation.

The referendum was suggested by president Klaus Iohannis, a centre-right politician and opponent of the centre-left government. He will now have to frame the question and set the date of the vote.

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Romania has seen the largest street protests since the end of communism, after the government tried to pass a decree that would have made corruption punishable only if the damages exceeded €40,000.

The decree would have halted the trial of Liviu Dragnea, the leader of Grindeanu's Social Democratic Party, who is accused of abuse of power.

The government withdrew the decree more than a week ago, but protests have continued every night since.

Tens of thousands of people have been gathering outside the government headquarters at Victory square.

Romania joined the EU in 2007, but it is still dogged by corruption, according to a report by the European Commission in January.

Analysis

Why Romania erupted in protest

Current anger over corruption laws can be traced back to a night-club fire in 2015, when many died because of lax safety standards. Romanians then realised that corruption can kill.

Opinion

Romania, the endless anti-corruption race

Romanians take to the streets in anti-government protests due to a proposed amendment to the country's anti-corruption legislation. But will this have any effect?

New Romanian PM tries to reassure EU

"Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past," said the new Romanian prime minister, Mihai Tudose, in Brussels amid EU Commission warning on corruption.

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