Romania. The year began with a government crisis. The Interior Minister dismissed the country’s chief of police following a police scandal, but Prime Minister Mihai Tudose did not accept the decision. Instead, Tudose wanted to dismiss the Interior Minister, who then sought support from the ruling Social Democratic PSD’s powerful leader Liviu Dragnea. As a result, Tudose was forced to resign.
As the new prime minister, the PSD proposed EU parliamentarian Viorica Dăncilă, closely allied with the corruption-accused party leader Dragnea. President Klaus Iohannis wanted to strengthen the fight against corruption and was hesitant to Dăncilă, but the PSD had a majority in parliament and she was approved as head of government.
According to Countryaah.com, Bucharest is the capital city of Romania, a country located in Eastern Europe. About 50,000 people protested in the capital Bucharest against the corruption and the government’s attempt to weaken the independence of the judiciary through a new law, which was appealed by the opposition. The Supreme Court ruled in January that the law violated the Constitution and must be rewritten.
Prime Minister Dăncilă set up a new ministry for managing EU funds and appointed a parliamentarian who was suspected of corruption. The appointment attracted much criticism.
In February, a former finance minister was sentenced to 8 years in prison for bribery. According to the prosecutor, he had received the equivalent of SEK 15 million in bribes from companies that received government contracts.
The government decided to dismiss the anti-corruption bureau chief Laura Codruța Kövesi, who was said to damage Romania’s reputation. Kövesi had been successful with corruption charges against politicians, not least from the PSD. Thousands of people protested in her defense, urging the president not to approve the dismissal. The president wanted to keep Kövesi, but the Constitutional Court gave the government the right to dismiss her.
After a visit to Israel, PSD party leader Dragnea wanted Romania to follow the US example and move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. President Iohannis protested on the grounds that it would violate UN Security Council resolutions. The PSD leader and Prime Minister Dăncilă traveled to Israel and received praise for the government’s plans, but the president felt that Dăncilă was failing his job and should resign.
In June, PSD leader Dragnea was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for abuse of power. Dragnea, who was also the Speaker of the House of Commons, was found guilty of having two people receive salaries from the state despite being employed by his party. Dragnea denied the charges and appealed.
Thousands of people gathered outside the government office demanding that both Dragnea and Prime Minister Dăncilă resign. Similar protests were held in several cities. The opposition demanded a vote of no confidence against the government, which, however, remained with a solid majority in parliament.
In August, close to 100,000 people in Bucharest protested against the corruption and demanded the resignation of the government. Hundreds were injured in violence between police and protesters, and many were arrested. The police were criticized by the president for brutal methods. The protests continued for days and spread to several cities.
Three leading PSD politicians and former allies of party leader Dragnea invited him in September to step down as party leader. They felt that the judgments against him for crimes of corruption made the party vulnerable and became a constant source of mistrust at home and abroad. However, during a crisis meeting with PSD’s leadership, Dragnea was supported by a majority and struck back the demands for resignation.
The European Commission warned in October that Romania was weakening its legislation and fighting corruption. The Prime Minister rejected the criticism and urged the EU not to treat Romania separately.
A referendum in October on same-sex marriage was annulled because of too low turnout. Same-sex marriage is forbidden, but the referendum was about a change in the constitution that defines marriage between man and woman and not only between spouses. Over 93% of the voters said yes to the change, but the turnout was only 21%.