Romania. According to
Countryaah.com, Romania was given a new government in January, a
few weeks after the election. Parliament endorsed Sorin
Grindeanu as prime minister for a coalition led by the
Social Democrats (PSD), which just over a year earlier was
forced out of power accused of widespread corruption.
The fight against corruption has been successful in
recent years, but now the new PSD government proposed
legislative changes that would prevent prosecution and trial
of corruption-accused politicians, including PSD leader
Liviu Dragnea. The proposal was met by protests in a number
of cities with tens of thousands of protesters. In
Bucharest, the slogan "down with the thieves" sounded. The
government enforced the proposal with decrees, and protests
grew until a quarter of a million people demonstrated in
Bucharest and some fifty other cities. These were the
biggest protests since the fall of communism. President
Klaus Iohannis took part in the protests, saying that the
government is taking away from the Romanians the dream of a
country free from corruption. The President called on the
Constitutional Court to review the decree, a minister left
the government in protest, The EU expressed its concern and
the US indicated that Romania's membership of NATO could be
affected. After five days of giant protests, the government
gave up and withdrew its decree, but the protests only
increased in strength. About half a million people now
demonstrated against a proposal to change the penal code.
The government also bent on that point. The government won a
vote of no confidence in Parliament, but the Justice
Minister responsible for the decree chose to resign. He was
succeeded by a politically independent lawyer. Tens of
thousands of people across the country continued to
demonstrate demanding that the entire government resign. President Iohannis proposed a
referendum on anti-corruption reforms, a proposal approved
In June, open rebellion within the PSD broke out against
Prime Minister Grindeanu, who refused to resign. A power
struggle was fought between him and party leader Liviu
Dragnea, who wanted to become prime minister but was
convicted of electoral fraud and charged with abuse of
power. PSD MPs chose to distrust their own head of
government, and a majority in parliament voted him out.
Minister of Economy Mihai Tudose (PSD) was nominated as new
Prime Minister and approved in a vote by PSD and Liberal
coalition partner ALDE. The party of the Hungarian-speaking
UDMR also supported Tudose in the vote.
In the government of Tudose, a number of ministers from
the previous coalition returned, and even now proposals were
made that would give the government greater control over the
judiciary and weaken the fight against corruption. Thus,
criticism continued at home and from the EU and the US.
In September, it was reported that Deputy Prime Minister
Sevil Shhaideh was suspected of corruption following a
contentious government decision on agricultural land leased
to private entrepreneurs. A deputy minister for EU funds was
also suspected in the prosecution, which had links with PSD
leader Dragnea. President Iohannis said both should leave
their posts and he criticized the PSD for protecting them.
In November, around 10,000 people in Bucharest protested
against the government's proposal to reduce the
anti-corruption agency's powers. The EU warned that the
fight against corruption would weaken.
The government presented a controversial tax reform that
was criticized by both unions and employers. The level of
tax-free income would be lowered, small businesses receive
increased tax and social insurance is paid by employees but
not by employers.
In November, a charge came against PSD leader Liviu
Dragnea for fraud, abuse of power and organizing crime
syndicates. Eight other persons were indicted on similar
grounds. The opposition demanded that Dragnea resign as
Speaker of Parliament's House of Commons. At the end of
November, nearly 50,000 people in a number of cities
protested against the government demanding its resignation.
During the year, the tourist attraction Dracula's Castle
Poenari was closed on a hilltop in Transylvania, where
visitors were frightened by a bear cub with three kids.
According to the police, it is the tourists themselves who
have attracted the bears by leaving food in the area.