Ponta resigns after protests
Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta and his cabinet resigned on Wednesday. The move came after thousands of people took to the streets blaming rampant corruption for a deadly fire at a Bucharest nightclub. Democracy is being rekindled in Romania, some commentators write jubilantly. Others argue that the government's resignation won't change a thing.
Citizens' anger makes Romania more democratic
Angry popular outbursts like the mass demonstrations in Romania are good for a country's democratic development, writes the conservative daily La Vanguardia approvingly: "This episode confirms a very Romanian spiral: the apparent resignation of the people suddenly explodes like a volcano when the citizens decide they've had enough and take to the streets. Since the fall of Nicolae Ceauşescu - the only communist leader in Europe to be executed - Romania's history has often been determined in the streets. In this case Romanian society expressed its indignant rejection of corruption. A similar reaction can also be seen in other European countries but it holds out the hope that Romania will now be fully integrated into the continent's best traditions."
Political restart takes time
Even after the Ponta government announced its resignation on Wednesday tens of thousands took to the streets in Bucharest to demand a fresh start. But that won't be so easy to achieve, suspects the online daily Gândul: "Change takes time, as well as new faces, and not just a rotation of the same old cadres. 'This is just the start, this is just the start', 25,000 people on the streets chanted on Tuesday. Perhaps it is the start of a wave of change that will allow the birth of new politicians who don't have to be sprayed with the blood of innocents to be persuaded to step down. … But change comes slowly, especially in Romania. It needs daily stimuli and must always come when an institution, an official or a public policy decision stinks of abuse and foul play. If you give up, if you ignore the problems, perhaps you won't die but others do. Like those who just died in [the nightclub] Colectiv."
Fighting the windmills of corruption
Ponta's resignation won't change much in Romania, the left-leaning daily Duma believes: "Dozens of Romanian civil servants, MPs and ministers are being investigated. Some have even been arrested and sentenced. But how effective are Romania's anti-corruption measures? Have corruption levels gone down after all these scandals? Have the people felt any change? Will Ponta's resignation put a stop to fires in nightclubs? Hardly. ... The fight against corruption is a fight against windmills. It only makes sense if it improves the people's economic situation. ... If you compare Bulgaria and Romania you see that it hardly makes a difference whether you fight corruption or not. Although Romania is taking intensive action while Bulgaria is doing nothing, things are no better in Romania than they are here."