Despite a protest by tens of thousands of people in Bucharest, the Romanian centre-right government has survived a no-confidence vote in parliament.
Police officers joined other public sector workers to denounce austerity measures that have cut wages by a quarter, and brought a 5% rise in VAT.
The vote was an attempt to topple prime minister Emile Boc but fell short of the majority required.
Protesters are unlikely to be impressed.
“Our wages have been cut by 25 percent in theory, but in reality they’ve fallen by over 40 percent,” said one young female health worker.
An older male demonstrator said: “I want Romania to obtain its rights: the right to live, the right to learn, the right to medical care, the right to a better life.”
The prime minister has recognised that people are dissatisfied, as elsewhere in Europe, but he has rejected what he calls the opposition’s ‘populism’, saying the bitter medicine should cure the country’s ills.
The government imposed the spending cuts and tax hikes to keep the deficit in check and benefit from 20 billion euros in international aid.
But IMF officials, who are in Romania to monitor the progress of the EU’s second poorest country, may have noted the scenes outside the parliament.
Anger mounted as protesters gathered there after a march in the centre of Bucharest.
The failure of the no-confidence motion might maintain political stability – but it has done nothing to please those at the sharp end of the cuts.