Major protests are expected to take place in Bucharest and other major cities across Romania on Friday evening as the Diaspora has been organising a massive "return home" for demonstrations against the policies promoted by the Social Democratic Party (PSD) -led government. Facebook pages put up for the occasion suggest the protests will be massive, with tens of thousands of people announcing their participation.
The Diaspora is one of the most powerful civic forces for Romania. It numbers about a sixth of the population (over 3 million people) and in the past its voice proved crucial in key events such as the 2014 presidential elections, when it forced an unexpected win for now president Klaus Iohannis.
The protests, due to be attended by a large number of "locals", are aimed at policies promoted by the current PSD-led government. Since coming to power in the 2016 general elections, the PSD has been pushing an agenda dominated by:
- changes to the laws of the judiciary and the criminal law, aimed at undermining the tools of the bodies fighting corruption
- economic changes focused on welfare and salary rises for public sector employees, that sparked waves of discontent within the private sector and warnings that they would be financially unsustainable
- policies aimed at helping key people in terms of legal protection (see changes to the law which were aimed at helping PSD leader Liviu Dragnea himself with his corruption-related criminal cases) and even business (see a more recent scandal where PSD leader Dragnea's son was found to have profited financially from suspicious pig-related businesses before a wave of swine fever hit the industry hard this summer)
- lack of action in supporting key areas of development such as infrastructure, hospitals, education, research
- promotion of inexperienced people in key government positions, which led to a wave of blunders at the highest level (see especially PM Viorica Dancila's blunders at meetings with the Pope, the Montenegrin leader and others, or the Agriculture minister's recent, internationally criticised comments where he compared the suffering of pigs sacrificed in the wake of the swine fever to Auschwitz)
The Diaspora protest becomes even more relevant considering that a series of recent polls suggested an increasing number of Romanians are interested in working abroad - about half of them even, according to a poll by BestJobs/Boston Consulting Group.
People from all across Romania are expected to join the Diaspora at the Bucharest protest, but demonstrations are due to take place in many major cities across the country as well. Similar events are also planned in European cities including Amsterdam, Brussels, Castellon de la Plana (Spain), London, Madrid, Rome, Vienna, Zurich.