AFTER just three weeks in power, Romania’s new prime minister, Sorin Grindeanu, could look out of his window and see a huge crowd carrying banners reading: “You have succeeded in uniting us.” Unfortunately for Mr Grindeanu, they did not mean it in a good way. For over a week, throngs estimated in the hundreds of thousands have turned out to protest against the passage of an emergency ordinance that could sabotage the country’s much-praised anti-corruption campaign. Even after the government cancelled the ordinance, the protests have continued.
The emergency decree, which the government passed on January 31st, in effect decriminalised official misconduct resulting in financial damage of less than 200,000 lei ($ 47,600). The new limit would have spared the leader of the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD), Liviu Dragnea, who has been charged with abuse of power for granting contracts worth $ 26,000 to associates who allegedly performed no work.
Within an hour of the measure’s adoption, more than 10,000 protesters were on the streets. The next night an estimated 250,000 gathered in more than 50 cities and towns across the country….