The Government’s decision to abrogate Emergency Ordinance 13 that de-criminalized certain criminal offenses including abuse of office and the resignation of Justice Minister Florin Iordache failed to calm the protests and the political tensions, although both of them have been somewhat scaled down.
The protesters continue to ask for the Government’s resignation because they say they cannot trust it anymore. Also, the fact that Emergency Ordinance 13 and Emergency Ordinance 14 that abrogates the former are still in the Parliament and their fate is uncertain (with the fear that EO 14’s rejection might make EO 13 valid again) is another factor keeping the demonstrators on the streets.
About 60.000 people protested on February 12th in Bucharest with a total of 100.000 across Romania, one week after the Government had given up on EO 13. That is an important drop, about 500.000 less than a week before.
What to expect
The political situation is still difficult, but the Government will not resign in the current context, despite the street’s request. The Government has a very solid following in the Parliament and not even the only important PSD politician that dissented in this period, Iasi mayor Mihai Chirica, announced that he supports the Sorin Grindeau Executive.
In Romania, only the Parliament could change the Prime Minister between the parliamentary elections as the President lost that power when the Constitution was modified in 2003.
However, things could become “explosive” if the PSD-ALDE coalition finds a way to make EO 13 valid again in the Parliament. A situation like that would probably get more people on the streets than they were of February 5th when about 600.000 people demonstrated.
Only in that situation the Government’s position is in danger, as people will feel cheated.
Another aspect of the problem is President Klaus Iohannis’ referendum on the continuation of the anticorruption fight. It will probably be held on late March or early April (with March 26th the most probable date, according to political sources) and could lead to a further escalation of the political confrontation. If Iohannis manages to have the referendum validated he will score a political victory and consolidate his role as the main opposition to PSD.
He will also prolong the debate on the modification of anti-corruption laws, so PSD will not be able to frame the debate on its socio-economic measures.
In conclusion, this subject will continue to dominate the political scene for at least two months, channeling much of the Government, Presidency and Parliament’s energies.