Is Romania Slipping More and More into the Past with the Latest Judicial Changes?
In this article, we focus on respondents’ opinions regarding Romania’s recent political events. The research consisted of an online survey conducted on our platform questia.ro and was active between June 12nd and June 18rd 2018. The survey covered 1000 respondents, with a +/- 4% margin of error when reported to the Romanian online population.
Romania’s political scene has been quite chaotic in the past few days, months… even years. In fact, a few days ago, the Parliament amended the Penal Procedure Code and the updates prove to help criminals, violators, paedophiles and drug dealers to get rid of charges. Romanian news websites reported that the amendment to the Criminal Code is aimed at intimidating prosecutors and it also helps Dragnea, president of the Social Democratic Party, who faces numerous charges. Furthermore, negligence at work disappears, influence peddling is redefined and the terms for conditional release are shortened. USR (Save Romania Union) said that „Today, Romania has become a paradise for the criminals”.
A few weeks ago, over 150.000 supporters of Romania's governing party, all dressed in white, gathered in Bucharest to protests against the so-called “parallel state” and alleged abuses by anti-corruption prosecutors who have targeted several top politicians. As Euronews reports: „The ruling Social Democrats think investigators have too much power, claiming that they have tapped phones illegally and targetted officials without sufficient cause”.
The insecurity among political scene is also reflected in the fact that Romania has had in the last 2 years not less than 5 Prime-Ministers. The London School of Economics and Political Science also stated that only after six months after winning the parliamentary elections, the Social Democratic Party was in turmoil following an attempt by the party’s leader, Liviu Dragnea, to remove the time-being Prime Minister, Sorin Grindeanu.
BBC News related about February's Romanians’ anti-corruption protests against the Government, after a decree that could free dozens of officials jailed for corruption was passed. More than 150.000 people gathered in Piata Victoriei from Bucharest to fight against corruption. These protests sparked after the emergency government decree passed without input from Parliament.
Photo source: Dan Balanescu—EPA
The emergency decree decriminalises several offences and makes abuse of power punishable by incarceration only if the sums involved are more than €44.000. One of its immediate beneficiary would be the PSD leader, Liviu Dragnea, who faces charges of defrauding the state of €24.000, while others due for release include elected officials and magistrates.
The Guardian also stated that „The ruling centre-left Social Democratic party has defended the decree, which has sparked some of the biggest protests since the 1989 fall of communism. Its leader, Liviu Dragnea, who has been blocked from becoming prime minister because of a vote-rigging conviction, is among those expected to benefit from the decree.”
Political parties, the Government and the Parliament are the least trusted entities with more than 80% of users trusting them to a small or very small extent. However, people seem to trust to a greater extent the army, the European Union and National Anti-corruption Division.
We then asked our respondents if they feel that the country is heading in the right direction. Most people believe that Romania is heading towards a wrong direction and I suppose that the recent events had a big impact towards this general opinion.
We then asked the ones who said that Romania is heading in the right direction, what are the top 3 actors that support/help Romania head into this good direction. Interestingly enough, the top picks include political actors such as the Government, the European Union, the Constitutional Court, the Parliament and the Presidency.
We also asked the same question to those who believed Romania is heading in the wrong direction. People believe that the Government, political parties and the Parliament are leading Romania in the wrong direction. The fact that The Government is the most picked option for both questions can only suggest the fact that those who believe the Government is helping Romania find and follow a good direction are supporters of the governing party, while those who think the Government leads Romania in a wrong direction are supporting the opposition.
The army, the police, Romanian Intelligence Service and the National Anti-corruption Division are believed to be beneficial to the country's fight against anti-corruption, thus helping Romania head in the right direction.
People generally believe that for Romania, the year 2018 is worse than the year before. In 2017, days after the government of the Grindeanu Cabinet was sworn into office in Romania, protests took place throughout the country against ordinance bills that were proposed by the Romanian Ministry of Justice regarding the pardoning of certain committed crimes and the amendment of the Penal Code of Romania (especially regarding the abuse of power).
Photo source: Sebastian Tataru/EPA
Time and The Guardian reported that it was the largest protests since the fall of communism in 1989— when former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was toppled — with more than half a million Romanians protested over a hastily-imposed decree that would have weakened penalties to corruption.
The decree, which had been scheduled to come into force on 10 February, would have made abuse of power a crime punishable by jail only if the sums involved exceeded 200,000 lei. Almost 2,000 people were convicted for abuse of power between 2014 and 2016, and a serving prime minister, five ministers, 16 parliamentarians and five senators were put on trial.
Also, more than a quarter of responders think that 2018 is the same as in 2017.
When thinking about the future, people believe that 2019 will either be worse than 2018 or similar to 2018 (but since they think that 2018 is worse than 2017 this only means that people expect to live in the same insecurity and corruption).
According to Trading Economics, Romania’s corruption index has been on an ascendant trend for the past 4 years. Romania’s current corruption score is 48 out of 100, where 100 means very clean and 0 means highly corrupt.
Our responders think that the governing political parties are the most corrupt with almost 90% of them saying that the parties who are in power are very or at least a little corrupt. The Parliament follows closely, being perceived by 91.6% of responders as being corrupt while the Government by 90.6% of responders.
However, it seems a little worrying the fact that even though they believe the country is heading in the wrong direction, the institutions who rule the country are corrupt and that the future seems to be darker or at least as dark as the present, most of the responders (more than half of them, 53.8%) are rather satisfied with the way they are living in Romania, with 4.6% saying they are very satisfied, 31.5% satisfied and 17.7% who state they are ok, neutral.
Why do you think that among this political chaos, people tend to say they are satisfied with their way of life? It seems clear that they are concerned about the present as much as about the future, they are aware of all the corruption acts that are happening but somehow they seem pleased with their life. Tell us what you think in the comment section below.
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