BY ANDREW BENNY
Romanian citizens have successfully taken on their government, forcing them to repeal an undemocratic and corruption-endorsing decree that would have seen penalties for some fraudulent political crimes be erased and the crimes made legal.
An emergency edict was put into place on Jan. 31 by the government and for the six days that followed hundreds of thousands of people across Romania took to the streets to protest the proposed law. This outcry consisted of the largest anti-government crowds since the toppling of Communism in the country in 1989.
The size of the crowds was not at all surprising as the suggested ordinance would mean crimes such as bribery and fraud by political officials would become legal. The laws were largely perceived as a way to keep party members out of jail and free those already serving sentences for various abuses of power.
Romania has had problems with governmental misconduct in the past.
“We want people to be equal before the law and no privileges for the people in Parliament. This government is organized from the high level down like a mafia and we don’t want something like this,” said Profira Popo, a protester in Victory Square in Bucharest, in an article for Time Magazine on Feb. 5.
During the week of Jan. 30 crowds demanded Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu submit his resignation and as many as 3,000 protesters kneeled in front of the political offices of the Social Democratic Party to ask members to leave office. However, they are still in power and Grindeanu survived a Feb. 8 no-confidence vote.
“(The people) want a clear, democratic and transparent government and they are making sure that their protest is heard,” said David Chater, a reporter for Al Jazeera.
This is a massive victory for the people of Romania and for democracy. Canadians must also take a stand and show Romanians we support them. To do and say nothing would be the equivalent of validating the government’s actions.
The views herein represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the author.