New protests against judicial reforms in Romania

In Romania tens of thousands gathered on the streets again to protest the controversial judicial reforms on the weekend. The parliamentary vote on the legislation, which was originally planned for last week, has yet to be held. Romania's press sympathises with the demonstrators and attacks the leaders of the two chambers of parliament, Liviu Dragnea und Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu, who are both facing charges of corruption.

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Waiting for an honest government

It's no wonder the citizens don't trust the current Romanian parliament to pull off an honest judicial reform, journalist Florin Negrutiu writes in the blog

“The fundamental problem is not that the people don't understand the judicial reforms or that they haven't read them, but that no one wants a judicial reform drawn up by a PSD led by Liviu Dragnea or the liberal Alde alliance led by Călin Popescu Tăriceanu. ... The people on the street say: the judicial reform can't be negotiated by politicians like these. They must be postponed until an honest government without ulterior motives and that enters a dialogue with the legal experts, the parliamentary opposition and society comes to power.”

Deutsche Welle (RO) /

Will the president heed the people?

The civil protests staged at the start of the year were successful if only briefly, the Romanian service of Germany state broadcaster Deutsche Welle maintains:

“The fast-track legislation with which the new PSD-led government wanted to neutralise the judiciary was revoked in February owing to the pressure from the streets, but Dragneas' troop immediately got to work pushing the controversial laws through parliament 'democratically'. With its comfortable majority of mandates that shouldn't really be a problem. The defenders of the rule of law are therefore pinned on the liberal president Klaus Iohannis. The latter already backed the protesters in February and repeatedly announced that he would use all the constitutional means at his disposal to block the project. The last resort would be a referendum. ... Does Iohannis have the courage for that?”

Deutsche Welle (RO) /

The Social Democratic Party is an oligarchy lobby

Liviu Dragnea has systematically turned his social democratic PSD party into an oligarch party, the Romanian service of German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle comments:

“Under the leadership of the barons from Teleorman, the PSD has clearly become the political representative of this vast local capital. The oligarchy. ... The highest-ranking PSD members are not just the political rulers, diligently dismantling the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary in their own interests. The PSD is also a club of big businessmen. Like all feudal castes made up of upstarts, charlatans, swindlers, plagiarists and common conmen that got rich overnight, not only does it want to rise above the law, its greed is insatiable.”

Ziare (RO) /

Driven by desperation

PSD leader Liviu Dragnea just wants to save his skin, journalist Ioana Dogioiu Ene writes on news website Ziare:

“Liviu Dragnea and his entourage are acting according to the logic of desperation. And that could push them to any lengths. If they were simply afraid of Euro-Atlantic reactions, they wouldn't have risked this attack on the laws which ignores all the warnings of the EU progress report and the US ambassador that the justice system must approve these legal reforms. ... I fear we now find ourselves in the unprecedented situation of seeing all power confiscated by a single individual. This person is driven by the fear of imprisonment, so basically his goal is to escape the noose that is tightening around his neck.”

Ziare (RO) /

Romania joining Hungary and Poland in grey zone?

The PSD leader and president of the Chamber of Deputies, Liviu Dragnea, is driving Romanian politics in a dangerous direction, journalist Emilian Isaila rails in Ziare:

“It's difficult to say whether Romania will manage to stay on the European path. We are on the verge of failure and very close to the grey zone in which Hungary and Poland find themselves. In my view the egoism of a party leader brought on the crisis over the judicial reform out of the blue, and we will be dealing with the consequences for years to come. The PSD has proven to be a weak party. It fell into Dragnea's trap. If the Social Democrats don't get over their paradigm of wanting to be above the law at any cost, they will have no future.”

Hotnews (RO) /

EU won't tolerate reform

The EU won't just sit back and watch as the rule of law in Romania is attacked, Hotnews comments:

“In Brussels there is an ongoing discussion about cutting back EU funding for countries that don't respect the rule of law. The EU's bitterness started when governments like those in Hungary and Poland undertook massive legal reforms. ... Now the Romanian government has struck out on the same path. Both here and in Brussels everyone knows that the judicial reform has just one goal: to prevent the leaders of the PSD and [its liberal coalition partner] Alde - as well as their demimonde sponsors - from being held legally accountable. The states that contribute most to the EU budget have had enough of the behaviour of authoritarian leaders in Eastern Europe, and are no longer willing to finance such aberrations.”