The Romanian people have spoken with a resounding NO to their government’s attempt to decriminalize bribery and corruption within their country. The law’s repeal had been accomplished by a new ruling party, which not only wanted to decriminalize such heinous behavior but also pardon those previously convicted under the prior law against corruption. The stated reason was to relieve prison overcrowding. (And The Man From FCPA thought the myth of the rogue employee was a specious argument.)
Reports noted that in the middle of the night, the government simply issued an Emergency Deree, to avoid publicity and Parliamentary approval “to change three articles involving three crimes: abuse of power, negligence in office and conflict of interest. Such crimes are usually committed only by high officials, high civil servants.” In short, the government was trying to put itself and its politicians above the law.
From afar the five days of demonstration that led to the government reversal would appear to show the nescient democracy of the country is working. However there may be something deeper going on of which the international community should take note. It is that the people of one of the most corrupt countries in Europe (57 on the Transparency International-Corruption Perceptions Index) have stood up to say enough. Sorin Ionita, a political analyst for the Expert Forum in Bucharest, had the following observation, ““In Romania, the political cleavage is not left against right, as it is in Western Europe. It is corruption versus anti-corruption.”
This revolt by the citizens of the Romania should put the United States on notice that any attempts to weaken this country’s leadership would be met with disfavor across the globe. Only the United States has the enforcement cachet and expertise to lead this international fight. For once I think the people of the Romania can say back to the government in Washington “the whole world is watching.”