Romanian artists gather support for anti-corruption movement 

101-year-old philospoher Mihai Șora and other famous Romanians hit the streets to support the "Rezist" campaign to change the country’s constitution and ban those with criminal convictions from holding public office.

Ana Maria Luca
Ana Maria Luca NewsMavens, Central & Eastern Europe
Romanian artists gather support for anti-corruption movement  - NewsMavens
Mihai Sora, Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

Corruption has been at the heart of Romania’s turmoil during the past few years, and more so since the December 2016 legislative elections were won by the center-left Social Democratic Party.

Tens of thousands of Romanians took to the streets during the past year and a half to protest against a push by the ruling party to adopt legislation meant to curb the powers of the prosecutors and anti-graft institutions that have prosecuted hundreds of former public officials, MPs and dignitaries in the past four years.  

“No criminals in public office” is a campaign supported by the Save Romania Union, a young political party set up in 2016 by civil society activists, that successfully turned its anti-corruption campaign into a electoral win in December 2016. The party holds the third largest number of seats in the Romanian parliament.  

For over two months, young politicians have mobilized and set up tents in Romania’s main cities to gather the 500,000 signatures necessary to submit a bill to the Parliament.

The movement also mobilized many progressive Romanian celebrities, including renowned artists, musicians and actors who have inspired generations and who became the symbols of the movement. Some of them, such as the 101 year old philosopher Mihai Sora, have turned into symbols of the movement.

Details from the story:

  • The initiators of the campaign, Save Romania Union MPs, say their objective is to submit  a bill to the parliament  by the end of 2018 meant to revise the Constitution to ban citizens who have been sentenced to prison from running for local, legislative and presidential elections.
  • The campaign is scheduled to end on August 20.
  • In mid-July, the Save Romania Union politicians announced they managed to gayher 350,000 signatures.
  • The actors went out every day for a week, July 18- 25, between 5 pm- 8 pm, to Bucharest's University Square, in front of the National Theater, one of the landmarks of the anti-communist 1989 revolt.
  • A picture of Rebenciuc, known for his dramatic roles in movies and theater plays,  in central  Bucharest  and wearing band with “No criminals” on his arm went viral on social media.
  •  “Sign this initiative, applaud it and sign! A country without criminals [in public office] can become a real, wonderful country. When they will not be able to steal, we will also have highways, schools and hospitals. As long as they steal from us, we’re just crawling,” Rebengiuc told Bucharest residents.
  • Award winning actress Oana Pellea joined the campaign because “I can and I care” and because, she said she believes that people with criminal graft sentences in public office “means a lack of democracy, and corruption, and I don’t believe there is an honest person in Romania who wants something like this.”
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