Why this story matters:
Romania’s most powerful politician, Liviu Dragnea, strengthened his grip on power on March 10 not only by securing his own leadership of the ruling party, but also promoting his ally PM Viorica Dancila as executive president. Dancila ‘s opponents withdrew right before the vote and candidates were not even allowed speeches.
Meanwhile, outside the venue of the Social Democrat Congress -- the same place where former communist ruler Nicolae Ceausescu kept being reelected as head of the Communist Party before 1989 -- three protesters were detained for shouting anti-Dragnea slogans.
They were the three leaders of the social media group, Coruptia Ucide (Romanian for Corruption Kills] that has been behind the anti-government protests in Romania.
Romania's right-wing media blames George Soros and "deep state" (un-elected policy makers) for the recent protests. But in fact, the manifestations were organized by young people who keep in touch on smartphone apps, use social media to mobilize protesters and know that creativity makes all the difference in challenging a powerful party like the Romanian Social Democrats.
Details from the story:
- Romanians have been protesting for a year against plans to curb the influence of prosecutors.
- Since mid-December, every day at noon, scores of people in Sibiu, Transylvania, have gathered in the “Corruption-free Zone” in front of the local Social Democrat Party office to stare at the building in silence, holding a #vavedem banner [Romanian for “We can see you”].
- The idea spread to 15 other towns and cities across Romania, including Bucharest and other European capitals where activists support the rule of law in Romania.
- Similar protests have taken place in Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Russia and Hungary.
- In Cluj-Napoca, a horticulturist made headlines after marching 450 kilometers to Bucharest to attend a rally on January 20.
- The anti-corruption movement in Transylvania is now holding civic education events called “agoras” where experts talk about justice and the rule of law.