Upwards of a quarter of a million Romanians have taken to the streets in record breaking numbers to protest the country’s corrupt politicians. For the first time since the fall of communism and the execution of Romania’s brutal leader Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife Elena (1989), Romanians have gathered in masses to demand change.
The crowds gathered in Bucharest to protest the apparent double standard the oligarchy has created for itself. No longer is it illegal to take a bribe, for example, so long as the amount does not exceed 45,000 euros (roughly 48,500 dollars). Also, the measure sets free from prison, many politicians who were doing time for corruption.
The grassroots protest started with roughly 12,000 Romanian protesters taking to the streets outside the government building in the capital on Tuesday, and climbed daily to well over 250,000 by Friday.
Romania’s leftist Social Democrat Party (PSD) issued the emergency decree which decriminalized cases of corruption involving less than 45k euros. The PSD won the election of 2016 and the measure was one of the PSD’s first executive orders put in place since taking over power in November. To put things into perspective, consider this headline from the Economist describing the PSD’s rise to power, “Conviction politics: Romania elects a party led by a vote rigger.” Not only was the party’s leader already a convicted election defrauder, but he now reportedly wants to be the country’s new leader. Sound familiar?
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