A series of legal changes secretly pushed by the Romanian Government late on Tuesday sparked a wave of protests and criticism on Wednesday. The Romanian President, the opposition parties, all key bodies representing the Judiciary, a major trade union, the Romanian-American Chamber of Commerce blasted or simply criticised the Sorin Grindeanu government's moves or opted to just show how specifically they undermine the ongoing fight against corruption.
EC President Juncker also spoke of "great concern" about events in Romania, after the Government approved measures such as pardoning people charged with certain crimes or who meet certain conditions or removing abuse in office from criminal law, if damages amount to less than RON 200,000.
These moves are seen as a helping hand to corrupt politicians who risk criminal sentences or who are interested in using state funds abusively. Among the former: the president of the governing Social Democratic Party (PSD), Liviu Dragnea, who has already received a suspended sentence for electoral fraud and risks another in a separate case.
On Wednesday morning until early afteroon:
- Thousands of people have joined a protest before the Government HQ since morning, with many more expected to march in the evening and in upcoming days. Some 15,000 people took part in a similar protest late last night, in way below freezing temperatures, after it was announced the government adopted the ordinances secretly in an late evening session.
- President Klaus Iohannis blasted the government orders as "unacceptable" and "a mockery" and urged the Supreme Council of Magistrates (CSM) to challenge them at the Constitutional Court.
- The CSM said it would do so, while harshly criticising the government orders. It quickly approved a notification to the Constitutional Court
- President Iohannis also urged Ombudsman Victor Ciorbea to do so. Ciorbea, who is seen as obedient to the PSD, first claimed he wouldn't have the necessary prerogatives to do so, despite having used them in other challenges - favoring PSD interests - at the Constitutional Court. Following Iohannis' intervention, said he would see what could be done
- The National Liberal Party (PNL), the main opposition party, announced a parliamentary motion against the government, while the MPs for the Save Romania Union, the second biggest opposition group, staged protests at the Parliament. UDMR, which has supported the PSD-led government after the December general elections, said it did not agree with the decision to change the law through emergency ordinances
- The Prosecutor General, the head of DIICOT - the main body fighting terrorism, trafficking and organised crime - and other judiciary bodies also spoke against the measures
- So did a major trade union federation, Cartel ALFA