Row over judicial reform in Romania

Thousands of people took to the streets in several Romanian cities on Sunday evening to protest proposals for judicial reform under which the president would no longer be involved in appointing the chief prosecutors for anti-corruption investigations, with only the justice ministry and the independent Magistrates' Council or CSM making such decisions. Romania's press criticises the reform plans and praises the protests.

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Blog Republica.ro (RO) /

Demonstrators are the real opposition

Government supporters have commented on the protests saying that you don't do politics on the street. But the demonstrators are the true counterweight to the ruling elites, journalist Florin Negrutiu writes on the blog republica.ro:

“Parliamentarianism, the essence of democracy, is being attacked in Romania by the members of a dominant caste who use democratic principles as an alibi to avoid being punished themselves. ... The protests are a healthy reaction by part of society to an emerging parliamentary dictatorship. ... What's more, the protests constitute the only opposition that can cause problems for those in power and give them headaches. It's the only opposition that they can't control.”

România Curată (RO) /

An open competition would be better

Political scientist Alina Mungiu-Pippidi has little good to say about the reform proposals on the blog Romania Curată:

“Theoretically the nomination of prosecutors by the Superior Magistrates' Council CSM makes the procedure a little more independent than if it were to be handled by the president's office. But in practice it would be far more important for the selection to be carried out by means of a genuine competition in which all candidates have to publicly present themselves to the CSM. However as long as the selection remains arbitrary it makes no difference who's in charge of nominations. If the appointments continue to be influenced by politics, why should the president's office be excluded? The higher the number of political forces involved, the greater the chances are that an unbiased candidate will get the job. And that can only be a good thing.”

Adevărul (RO) /

CSM not the right body for this task

Journalist Bianca Toma also takes a critical view of the planned reform on the Adevărul blog:

“The Superior Magistrates' Council (CSM) is not yet mature enough to assume the responsibility for appointing chief prosecutors. Leaving these important decisions to a collective body like the CSM, which answers to no one, would jeopardise the results achieved so far in the judicial reform and the fight against corruption. … Moreover this discussion is nothing new, it has been going on since 2015. … The political bartering at the expense of the prosecutors or the judiciary has always been a matter of controversy, and was even mentioned in the EU Commission's report on the fight against corruption.”