February saw as many as 500,000 Romanians march in protest over what is perceived to be one of the most corrupt governments in Europe. Based on those protests, the government rescinded laws that relaxed criminal sanctions for governmental corruption. This week, the government tried to back-door in more laws to weaken the fight against corruption. Reports indicated the public responded with additional protests, which ultimately stopped the government’s actions.
The first action was a Romanian Senate bill that would have pardoned government officials who were convicted of receiving bribes. The second action came from the Romanian Constitutional Court that upheld legislation preventing citizens with criminal convictions from serving as government ministers. Although the protests against the legislative action were much smaller in size than those in February, the effect demonstrated the people of Romania will not allow the government to slip through laws designed to allow greater corruption. Cristian Pirvulescu, the dean of the political science department at the National School of Political Studies and Public Administration in Bucharest, said the government “probably believed the civic movement was finished and they could restart disruptions against the rule of law.”
This fight by the ordinary citizens of one corrupt country clearly demonstrate the universal hatred of such disregard of the rule of law. It also speaks directly to the need for countries with more robust and well-settled rule of law to make prosecution against bribery and corruption a global priority. With countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Brazil, and others in the lead of this international fight, there is a demonstrable model for less-well-developed countries to follow. Radu Delicote, a strategist at the political consulting group Smartlink Communications, described Thursday, May 4, as: “a good day for the rule of law in Romania.”