Romania's Relentless Turmoil Puts its Stability at Risk
The wave of protests and counter-protests in Romania could have damaging long-term consequences both for people’s trust in politics and for the economy, experts warn.
The protests - the biggest since the fall of communism, taking place in more than 50 towns and cities across the country - forced the government to withdraw the decree. However, even with the legislation off the table for now, the political crisis that has engulfed Romania is likely to have longer-term consequences, once again exposing a deep rift in society.
“A large part of Romanian society is obviously increasingly distrustful and hostile towards the current government, while many other people have the same attitude towards the President and the opposition,” sociologist Barbu Mateescu observed. “Political tension is set to continue in Romania,” he added.
The previous government of Prime Minister Victor Ponta resigned in November 2015, following mammoth street protests, after graft among fire-safety inspectors led to a Bucharest nightclub fire that killed 64 people. Anti-corruption efforts have intensified over the past six years, as anti-graft investigations started to address big names and also to reveal cases of conflicts of interest, abuse of power, fraud and the award of state contracts in exchange for bribes.