Romania: prison for PSD leader Dragnea

Romania's supreme court on Monday upheld a prison sentence against the leader of the Romanian ruling party PSD, Liviu Dragnea. He will now spend three and a half years behind bars for abuse of power. His party also suffered major losses in the European elections, coming in second behind the liberal PNL. Can Romania now breathe a sigh of relief?

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Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Help from abroad

EU membership has given Romanian society the strength it needed to put the PSD leader behind bars, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung concludes:

“Without EU membership and free movement the Romanians' would never have been so mobile, and the diaspora would have played a less significant role as moderniser. But civil society in Romania is also dependent on other allies aside from Romanians living abroad. The EU provides such alliances. After the competent chief prosecutor and corruption fighter Laura Codruta Kövesi was sacked by the regime she was selected as a candidate for EU public prosecutor. And the backing of his EU colleagues is important for liberal President Klaus Iohannis's resistance against the powerful cartel of the government.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

The last word has yet to be spoken

Whether Dragnea will remain behind bars remains to be seen, the Süddeutsche Zeitung stresses:

“Members of the constitutional court with close ties to the party could perform some legal sleight of hand that sees the PSD leader set free again. All they have to do is declare the selection of judges for the trial against Dragnea unconstitutional. But regardless of how the affair ends in court, Dragnea's political end is nigh. The catastrophic result in the EU elections has been enough to finally bring the prominent PSD politician down. It's just a matter of time now. ”

Adevărul (RO) /

Voters didn't let themselves be manipulated

The Romanians won't be taken for fools, Adevărul comments:

“The PSD has mobilised the entire propaganda machinery that it inherited from the communist predecessors to adulterate democracy in Romania, to return to the old times it has always yearned for. The PSD believed that the only thing the people were good for was to be manipulated and groomed by adding a 100 lei [around 21 euros] to their pension or salary. ... But the Romanians are not as dumb as the PSD would like them to be. The Romanians believe in values and honest work. They are not anti-European and they would not want to leave Europe so that the PSD leadership can steal as much as it likes.”

România Curată (RO) /

Drama for the Social Democrats

România Curată looks at how the Social Democrats got into such a mess:

“Their fight against the judiciary, ignorance of moral values, senseless economic measures the negative consequences of which are gradually being felt, and their xenophobic, anti-European discourse: these are all elements of a policy that puts all its eggs in one basket: either we win or we crash. ... The party's biggest mistake, however, was to appoint Prime Minister Viorica Dancilă. The PSD has plenty of competent people but it was the submissive ones who came to power. Dragnea continually feared for his position as leader, and put obstacles in the way of any members of government who could have posed a threat. ... The PSD now faces a crucial test.”