Romania’s ruling Social Democrats appealed for calm on Monday (February 6) after withdrawing a decree widely condemned as reversing the country’s anti-corruption drive, but protesters again took to the streets to demand the government’s resignation.
On Sunday (February 5), the government rescinded the decree, which would have shielded dozens of politicians from prosecution, following the largest demonstrations in Romania since the fall of communism in 1989.
About 25,000 people gathered in front of government offices in central Bucharest on Monday evening – far fewer than the 250,000 seen the previous evening – to demand Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu’s resignation and snap elections.
“We want the prime minister out of that building and never to come back. He’s a big time failure,” Cristian, a protester told Reuters.
The scenes of Romanians thronging Bucharest’s broad boulevards and other cities every evening since January 31 have shaken the government and they will not have gone unnoticed elsewhere across Eastern Europe, blighted by corruption and cosy ties between business and politics since the end of communism.
Romania, a country of 20 million people which hosts a U.S. ballistic missile defence station and is one of Washington’s staunchest allies with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, remains among the poorest members of the European Union.