Never in my life, have I thought I would read the words “legalizing corruption” from a major news source concerning a member of the European Union; however this is exactly what the government of Romania tried to do on Tuesday of this past week. The newly elected and formed government of Romania passed a decree that would decriminalize corruption charges or “abuse of power” offenses if the sum of the charges is less than $47,500. This decree has “abuse of power” written all over it.
While the proponents of the decree stressed that the aim of the law was to reduce prison overcrowding and “align certain laws with the constitution”, I believe it was a thinly veiled attempt by government officials to protect themselves from being held accountable.
In particular, Liviu Dragnea, head of the governing Social Democrats, has a lot gain due to charges being brought against him. He is being charged with defrauding the state of Romania of 24,000 Euro, which under the proposed decree would be completely legal. The opponents of this decree, myself included, stress that the decree is just another way in which the governing party can absolve themselves of any corruption charges that are brought against them.
Throughout the country, massive demonstrations were held to protest the decree and show the newly elected government what the people really want. The protests have been the largest in Romania since the fall of communism in 1989. This clearly shows the popular opinion of the public on this ridiculous decree. When politicians like Mr. Dragnea, who can’t even become Prime Minister due to electoral fraud convictions, try to defend the bill, it should set off red flags everywhere. However, it is still unknown whether or not the passage of the decree would allow him to assume the role of Prime Minister.
Saying that certain types of corruption should be legal makes absolutely no sense at all. In addition, when politicians that can directly benefit from the passage of the decree advocate its passage, it goes against the basic role that the government plays in society. Politicians should not have the ability to change what they decide corruption should be and its punishments. What makes the decree even worse in my opinion is that the Romanian constitutional court had not yet ruled on the legality of the decree which should disqualify it from coming into effect until the court has decided that it conforms to the Romanian constitution.
The Romanian government’s attempts to pass this decree, despite its revocation, show what it truly thinks of the Romanian people. I could never trust any government that tries to protect itself by allowing politicians to be absolved of corruption. It completely erodes all faith in the security between those who govern and those that are governed. In order to have a working, functioning government there needs to be a basic level of trust between the two. By attempting to pass this decree the Romanian government has eroded all faith that the fledging administration has accumulated.
Lyman, Ricky, and Kit Gillet. “Romania Reverses Decision to Weaken Corruption Law.” New York Times. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Feb. 2017.
“Romania Protesters Await Corruption Decree Repeal.” BBC News. BBC, 05 Feb. 2017. Web. 05 Feb. 2017.