Romania: is the corruption decree about to be dropped?

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By Catherine Hardy  with REUTERS
Romania: is the corruption decree about to be dropped?

The leader of Romania’s governing Social Democrats (PSD) says the government might withdraw the corruption decree that has triggered massive street protests and international condemnation since it was approved earlier this week.

PSD chief Liviu Dragnea is seen as leading government policy.

He says he will meet with other senior party figures to discuss the fallout from the decree.

“There may even be talks to withdraw it, if the prime minister would want that,” Dragnea said in an interview.

“I feel I can’t keep under control from the centre…the pressure from regional organisations that can bring one million people onto the streets of Bucharest.”

“As a result, I decided to meet coalition partners to propose a solution to solve the deadlock.”

The politics

The PSD has an overwhelming majority in parliament, together with its long-standing junior ally, ALDE.

Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu’s PSD-led government has so far firmly rejected any calls to rescind the decree.

However, splits in the cabinet emerged on Thursday with the resignation of a minister and a call from a vice-president of the PSD for the measure to be withdrawn.

The PSD leader picked Grindeanu to head the government after Dragnea himself was barred by a previous vote-rigging conviction.

Why is there so much opposition?

The decree to decriminalise some graft offences is seen as the biggest retreat on reforms since Romania joined the EU in 2007.

If enforced, it would decriminalise abuse-of-power offences involving sums below 200,000 lei (44,000 euro)

Who is likely to benefit, if it is passed?

Livea Dragnea, among others.

If it takes force, the decree could put an end to an ongoing trial he is involved in.

He is accused of using his political influence to secure state salaries for two people working at his party headquarters between 2006 and 2013.

Dozens of other political figures from all parties stand to benefit from the decree.

In tweets – “the biggest protests since Ceaucescu”