Calls for government to quit as Romania protests continue

Romanians are preparing for the sixth consecutive night of major protests amid claims that their government's pledge to repeal a controversial law have not been honoured.

Romanians have been protesting since Wednesday. Picture: Andrei Dascalescu

Demonstrators are calling for members of the government to resign amid a row over a government ruling which critics claim would set back the country’s anti-corruption drive.

However, the government has insisted it will not resign, despite pressure from citizens, claiming that demonstrators have been mobilised by overseas influences.

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More than half a million people took to the streets in Romania on Sunday night, 24 hours after the Social Democrat-controlled government said it would repeal the Emergency Ordinance passed in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

However, moves to repeal the law - which would allow those serving in public office to commit fraud of up to £37,000 without facing criminal charges - following a nationwide outcry, seemed to founder at the weekend after the government indicated plans to introduce another version of the law in Parliament, where it has a majority.

Now campaigners believe government ministers should stand down.

Adrian Petrescu, who has protested on the streets of Bucharest every day since Wednesday, told The Scotsman: “My goal would be for the PSD to change their leaders, and the government. I do not want them to lose power but to move into a direction that would reform their old, corrupt party.”

He added: “I will be there for as long as it takes.”

Social Democratic chairman Liviu Dragnea - who is himself is banned from being prime minister because of conviction in April 2016 for vote rigging - said yesterday after a meeting with governing partners that “we unreservedly expressed our support for the government...and the prime minister.”

Photographer Andrei Dascalescu, who is protesting in the eastern Romanian city of Iasi, said: “I am very proud by what happened during these days, especially the first night, when we spontaneously took the streets at midnight, below zero temperatures.

“But now, I for one, feel hopeless. And totally amazed at how ignorant they can be, with 500,000 people on the streets after six days of protests.”

Protester Cristiana Osan, from Cluj, said: “Most of us are not politically biased, we just do not want to be led like this. It is not natural to have a government which legalises corruption.”

Romania’s Constitutional Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of the decriminalising proposal later this week.