Romanians continued to protest on Friday evening across Romania, as the center-left government led by Sorin Grindeanu suggested it had no plan to repeal the controversial amendments to the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedural Code, despite warnings from foreign embassies and high-ranking officials of the European Union.
Some 150,000 people gathered last night in Bucharest, in front of the government building, and shouted “Thieves” and “Repeal than leave”. The people also sang the national anthem. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people swarmed the streets of other cities including Cluj-Napoca (30,000), Timisoara (25,000), Sibiu (18,000), Iasi (15,000), Constanta (13,000), Brasov (12,000), Craiova (10,000), Ploiesti (8,000), according to HotNews.ro estimates. A solidarity protest also took place in Chisinau, the capital of the Republic of Moldova.
The protests are set to continue throughout the weekend and probably next week, as the Constitutional Court (CCR) is expected to say when it will discuss and make a ruling on the controversial emergency government decision that partially decriminalizes the abuse in office.
The amendments were challenged at the CCR by the Superior Council of Magistrates, president Klaus Iohannis and the Ombudsman, Victor Ciorbea. The president claimed that the constitutional judges have to solve a legal conflict between institutions. He added that such changes could hamper the country’s anti-corruption efforts.
Growing political pressure on government
Despite the heavy criticism from opposition parties and the people that rallied in the major cities, PM Sorin Grindeanu said he will continue to support the changes. Earlier this week, the minister of entrepreneurship, Florin Jianu, resigned from the government claiming that “Romanians don’t deserve what’s happening to them”.
On Friday evening, social democrat MEP Sorin Moisa claimed that the government has to repeal the ordinance and pass the amendments in Parliament following debates.
The Social Democratic Party PSD has started to lose some of its members, as the party led by Liviu Dragnea is under extensive pressure to abandon the ordinance. Meanwhile, some PSD leading figures said that the party should rally its own people, in support for Grindeanu’s government, but Dragnea said he doesn’t approve this move.