The Prime Minister of Romania has survived an attempt to bring a criminal prosecution against him.
The country’s parliament has voted overwhelmingly to block an inquiry into Victor Ponta. Deputies voted 231 to 120 to preserve his immunity as Prime Minister.
He has also rejected a call to resign from the country’s President after being named in an investigation into forgery, money-laundering, tax evasion and conflict of interest. He has denied any wrongdoing and has promised to go in person to the prosecutors office with all the documents required. “I will explain everything”, he said, “and in a very short period of time I am convinced they will decide that there is no case to answer and that I respected the law eight years ago.”
Observers say the vote sends the wrong signal to those in office. Analyst Mircea Marian fears it is a sign of things to come: “They will think they are immune and corruption will explode,” he says. “The mandate of the head of the anti-corruption office runs out next spring and, if this government is still in power, it is unlikely they will back her for another term. So the experiment with accountability will be over and they will place a stooge in the role.”
Victor Ponta’s ordeal does not end here, though. The opposition has tabled a vote of no-confidence for this Friday.
All this takes place as Romania prepares to review its four billion euro aid deal with the EU and IMF in the next few weeks.