For the third night in a row, thousands of Romanians took to the streets of Bucharest on Sunday to protest against the leftist government.
Singing the national anthem and waving Romanian flags, the demonstrators, much less numerous than the previous two nights – when there were tens of thousands, gathered again in Victory Square, in front of the seat of government. Many of them again accused their political leaders of corruption and demanded their resignation.
On Friday, about 80,000 protesters demanded the resignation of Viorica Dancila’s social democratic government, accusing it of corruption and wanting to control the courts. More than 450 people were wounded during the demonstration, including about thirty police officers, when protesters tried to break a police cordon, throwing stones and water bottles at officers.
Romanian centre-right President Klaus Iohannis, in open conflict with the left-wing parliamentary majority, blasted “the brutal and disproportionate intervention” of the security forces who deployed tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd, and asked the prosecutor general to open an investigation. He criticised the government for “working against the interests of the citizens,” accusing leaders of the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD) of “leading the country to chaos and disorder.”
Romania has been the scene of regular protests over the last a year and a half, with a peak of half a million people on the streets in February 2017. Since returning to power at the end of 2016, the PSD has embarked on a vast program of judicial reforms which, according to critics, threatens the independence of judges and aims to allow politicians to escape prosecution for corruption.