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Romania's president slams government over transparency and corruption

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By Alasdair Sandford
Romania's president slams government over transparency and corruption

There has been uproar in the Romanian parliament as President Klaus Iohannis castigated the left-wing government over its corruption decree and handling of the aftermath that’s seen widespread protests. But he said it should continue to govern, opposing a snap election.

His intervention provoked a mass walkout by politicians from the ruling Social Democrats.

Iohannis denied seeking to overthrow the legitimate government but strongly attacked its behaviour.

“Romania needs a strong government which works transparently, which governs predictably, in the light of day, not hiding at night. Make good laws for Romania, not for a group of politicians with problems,” he said.

The government originally adopted its decree decriminalising lesser corruption offences, late at night last week.

Iohannis also said that at a dangerous time in the region, Romania needed to remain an island of stability: “that’s what our EU and NATO partners expect from us”.

The president, whose role is largely ceremonial, said the sole ministerial resignation over the affair was “too little”.

Business Environment Minister Florin Jianu stepped down last week in protest at the government’s decree. The Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu has said he will consider sacking Justice Minister Florin Iordache for mishandling the aftermath.

An estimated 25,000 people rallied again in the capital Bucharest on Monday, far fewer than on Sunday.

However, daily protests have prompted the government to revoke its decree that critics said would set back the fight against corruption.

Around 2,000 government supporters demonstrated against Iohannis outside the presidential palace for the second day running on Monday, accusing him of whipping up the anti-government demonstrations.