Romania: politician Dragnea out of prison

In Romania, Liviu Dragnea, former leader of the social democratic PSD and president of the Romanian parliament, has been released early from prison. He was seens as the string-puller for various government coalitions before he was sentenced to three and a half years in prison in 2018 for inciting abuse of office - of which he has served two years and two months. Commentators discuss what comes next for the former political heavyweight.

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Evenimentul Zilei (RO) /

He won't leave the country in peace

Dragnea is unlikely to lay down his arms, says Evenimentul Zilei:

“He is forbidden by the ruling of the High Court of Cassation and Justice from being elected as a parliamentarian, head of a county council or mayor and from holding any other functions with the state until 15 July 2024. Objectively speaking, Liviu Dragnea no longer has a future in politics. He gambled and lost. ... But no one can prevent him from trying to found a new party. Or trying to stir up his old party, the PSD. And he will probably do something like that.”

Digi 24 (RO) /

No longer welcome in his party

Digi 24 doesn't believe that the PSD wants Dragnea back:

“Even if there are still people from Dragnea's clique in the party, it will be difficult to reactivate them. The current leadership is firmly in the saddle and the clique of [party leader] Marcel Ciolacu is also achieving pretty good results at the political level. And let's not forget: Dragnea wanted to dissolve the PSD. He sued it from prison for holding internal elections. After such steps, it's hard to imagine that Dragnea will find any points of contact with the PSD.”

Newsweek România (RO) /

Successors rejoice over toothless judiciary

Two additional corruption cases are now pending against Dragnea. But he is unlikely to be convicted again, explains Răzvan Chiruţă, editor-in-chief of Newsweek România:

“I'm concerned that just like in the past, Dragnea remains almost untouchable. Because in reality, a strong judiciary does not suit the current governing coalition very well either. While he was in office, Liviu Dragnea gave kleptocratic politicians a huge gift: he created a toothless judiciary. And the politicians are now showing their gratitude. Because in the coming years 80 billion euros [in EU and reconstruction funds] will be up for grabs.”