Romania protests continue over plans to revive corruption bill

After hundreds of thousands of Romanians protested Sunday, more demonstrations are expected Monday

Story highlights

After 500,000 people took to the streets, the government withdrew controversial decree

Plans to protect politicians charged with corruption are still in the works

CNN  — 

Demonstrations are expected to continue in Romania today despite a temporary government retreat over a bill that would have protected many politicians from being prosecuted for corruption.

On Sunday – when an estimated half a million protesters took to the streets – a government statement was issued repealing the decree, which had been approved Tuesday without input from the country’s parliament.

This did little to stem anger as Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu still appears determined to push through the amendments to the criminal codes. He has asked the country’s justice minister, Florin Iordache, to prepare a draft law which is similar to the controversial decree. The proposed legislation will be sent to parliament for approval following public consultation.

In a statement reported by the Romanian national news agency, Agerpres, Monday, Iordache said: “We will develop and post a regulatory act. Before we move further, all experts and whoever wants to, will have the opportunity to express a point of view.”

‘Government should resign’

Businessman Cosmin Alexandru, 47, has participated in the protests over the past six days, which have been the largest demonstrations Romania has seen for decades.

He told CNN Monday: “The ordinance has been withdrawn but has now been introduced almost unchanged into the parliamentary process. They did not withdraw it because they considered it wrong but because of the pressure.”

“The only reasonable outcome for me is the government resigning and either put a better government in place or call an election,” he added.

He expects, however, that the draft law will eventually be passed.

The original decree, which would have taken effect in about a week, decriminalized corruption that causes damage worth less than about 200,000 Romanian lei, or $48,000.

This could have benefited politicians such as Liviu Dragnea, president of the Social Democrat Party, which recently took power. Dragnea is under investigation over abuse of power allegations and had also previously received a two-year suspended sentence for an elections offense.

The new draft law, while similar to the controversial decree, does eliminate the section that decriminalized damage worth less than 200,000 lei.