Tens of thousands are expected to march in Bucharest, Romania today to mark the one-year anniversary of a government crackdown on anti-corruption protests.
Last year, Romanian police deployed water cannons, tear gas and batons to repress 100,000 peaceful protestors, which eventuated in the arrest of 30 and injury of hundreds of protestors. Whilst an investigation is underway, criminal charges are yet to be laid.
The mass protests were sparked by the sacking of Prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi. Kovesi led corruption investigations into hundreds of politicians, including ruling Social Democratic Party leader Liviu Dragnea, who is now imprisoned for election fraud.
Dragnea supporters claim Ms Kovesi’s investigation as politically motivated and overzealous. As such, Romanian President Viorica Dancila is attempting to pass reforms that narrow the definition of corruption and provide amnesty whereby ‘wrongfully’ convicted politicians can avoid prison.
With elections still over a year away, expect the protests to, like last year, deliver little change. As the ruling party’s popularity soars below 20% in the polls, expect the Government to repress the protests, but in a manner less violent than last year.
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Saira is an analyst in the Current Developments team, where she focuses her research on the Middle East and North Africa region.