The Romanian Government abrogated Emergency Ordinance 13 that would have decriminalized certain legal offenses, including abuse of office, on Sunday February 5th following massive street demonstrations involving hundreds of thousands of people.
However, that didn’t stop the street protests and the same day new record demonstrations were held in most Romanian cities. The numbers reached 600.000 but we can reasonably say that the total was much bigger. 600.000 is the sum of the largest numbers in every city but it does not count the fact that many people were coming and leaving.
The decree was later transformed into an almost identical draft bill to be voted by the Parliament, but there is a lot of confusion on this project. It was put on public debate but later the Ministry contradicted itself saying it will not send this bill to the Parliament.
Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu said he has no intention of resigning from his position.
What to expect?
How it looks now, these measures will not stop the mass protests against the Government, as protesters expect the resignation of the cabinet.
In the meanwhile, a small counter-manifestation of about 1000 people took place, asking for President Klaus Iohannis’ resignation. Similar ones might take place in parallel in the following days.
Also, tensions grow within the Social Democrat Party. The mayor of Iasi, PSD vice-president Mihai Chirica, is leading the discontent chorus. He had asked a few days ago for the projects to be withdrawn and Justice Minister Florin Iordache to resign, as well as criticizing Liviu Dragnea. He continued to criticize the party’s action towards justice and said that PSD lost 23% in a few days because of it.
Another important aspect is the National Anticorruption’s Department (DNA)’s case opened over the way the de-criminalizing project was drafted. At the moment no one is indicted but the situation could change in the future but the prosecutors have already called dignitaries in the Justice Minister to declarations.
There is also an expected decision from the Constitutional Court on the EG 13 – the magistrates will decide if they should continue to analyze it now that it has been withdrawn by the Government. The decision could have an impact when its provisions will be discussed in another legislative project.
Possible scenarios for the Executive:
There are 2 option for the Government at the moment:
1. The Cabinet keeps its position
This is the most likely scenario for the moment, despite the fact that the Executive’s departure has become the demonstrator’s main request.
That will do little to calm the tensions and the demonstrations will most likely continue, maybe with higher numbers of participants. Justice Minister Florin Iordache will most probably go as he is seen as the main responsible for the project and his resignation (or dismissal) is a minimum to calm some of the tension in the society.
2. The Cabinet resigns
Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu said explicitly that he wants to stay and he has the party’s support for that but weeks of protest might force him to step down.
In this scenario, it is still not likely to have early elections. The procedure is very complicated and this point could only be reached if the Parliament itself “agrees” by rejecting two Prime Minister nominations, something that could allow President Klaus Iohannis to dissolve the Legislative.
We will probably have another PSD-ALDE cabinet but led by someone more favorable to President Klaus Iohannis.
Dangerous development against multinationals
The social democrats continue to blame multinational companies for the demonstrations. Social democrat senator Adrian Tutuianu, head of the parliamentary committee that verifies the Romanian Intelligence Service said he would ask the Service to investigate these companies’ involvement in the protests. Also the Social Democrats leader Liviu Dragnea himself suggested such an involvement. In the same time, the pro governing party media outlets are supporting this scenario. Business organisations are expected to react to these accusations.