Tens of thousands of Romanians have taken to the streets of Bucharest for a third night to rally against a decree decriminalising some forms of corruption.
For now, the country’s new socialist Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu has refused to repeal the controversial measure, despite the biggest protests since the fall of communism.
On Wednesday, some 200,000 people demonstrated across the country.
‘‘We came here like all the others – I believe – because we want them to revoke the decree and then leave,’‘ said one protester.
‘‘I want them to undo the law, that they just gave in the middle of the night and that’s it. I want them to do their job. I do not want them to leave, I want them to be responsible until the end because they were voted, but they are stealing in front of us,’‘ another protester insisted.
The emergency decree will see dozens of officials jailed for corruption freed.
The head of one agency charged with tackling corruption in Romania has said the move could roll back years of progress.
‘‘There has only ever been one single strategy for fighting corruption and we have learned and developed with that. The state should be consistent and follow this strategy through the proper institutions. If not, it should have communicated its plans to change the national anti-corruption strategy before proceeding with legislative change,’‘ Daniel Horodniceanu said.
Since the government was sworn in last month, its apparent retreat on reforms has caused widespread alarm.
The decree has provoked a no-confidence motion from opposition parties, while Romania’s president Klaus Iohannis has vowed to challenge it in the constitutional court.
International condemnation over the government’s decision is also mounting. Several European countries, as well as the US and Canada, issued a statement claiming the measure undermined “progress on rule of law and the fight against corruption over the past ten years.”