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 – which had seen tens of thousands – gathered again in Victory Square, in front of the headquarters of the government. Many of them again accused the government of corruption and demanded its resignation.
On Friday, about 80,000 protesters demanded the resignation of Viorica Dancila’s social democratic government, accusing it of corruption and wanting to undermine the independence of the judiciary. More than 450 people were wounded during the event which descended into violent scenes. Some thirty gendarmes were also injured. Protesters had tried to break the cordon, throwing stones and water bottles at the police. The latter fought back using tear gas before using a water gun to evacuate the area.
Romanian centre-right President Klaus Iohannis, who is in open conflict with the left-wing parliamentary majority, blasted “the brutal and disproportionate intervention” of the security forces 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) “leading the country to chaos and disorder.”
Minister of the Interior, Carmen Dan, assured that the gendarmes had acted according to the law to “defend the institutions of the State.”
Romania has been the scene of regular protests for a year and a half, with a peak of half a million people on the street in February 2017. Since returning to power at the end of 2016, the PSD has started a vast reform of justice which threatens the independence of judges and aims to allow politicians to escape prosecution, according to critics.