Romania’s Justice Minister Resigns as Mass Protests Persist, Any Other Questions?

Florin Iordache, Romania’s Minister of Justice and a member of the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD) has resigned following more than a week of massive street protests against an emergency decree that would have decriminalized a range of corruption offenses. The government ultimately repealed the contentious ordinance on Sunday, which was set to go into effect today. Hundreds of thousands of protesters have turned out to participate in the biggest demonstrations since the 1989 revolution.

Many say the emergency ordinance would have permitted officials, many of them from PSD, to evade justice. Abuse-of-office offenses resulting in less than $48,000 in losses would no longer have constituted a crime. Among those who would have been eligible for amnesty had the ordinance gone into effect was powerful PSD head Liviu Dragnea, currently serving a two-year suspended sentence for electoral fraud. The charges prevented Dragnea from becoming prime minister.

Iordache said that while the Ministry of Justice’s decisions had in fact been constitutional, “that was not enough for public opinion.”

The newly resigned minister became an object of ridicule last week after giving a bizarre press conference during which he answered every question with the exact same response: alta intrebare, or “any other questions”. Protesters and opposition politicians seized upon Iordache’s performance and it quickly became a humiliating joke with which to pillory PSD.

The opposition Save Romania Union (USR), founded just last year and already the third-biggest party in Romania, spread anti-government parodies of Iordache’s “alta intrebare” on social media. One particularly potent example came from prominent USR member and French MIT graduate Clotilde Armand’s Facebook post of an image of hundreds of thousands of protesters in Bucharest’s Victory Square with the caption “alta intrebare?”

Alta intrebare
Alta intrebare

But the ongoing protests against PSD and the government’s refusal to step down despite the mass protests have left Romania with as many unanswered questions as Iordache’s absurd press conference last week. Perhaps some will finally be addressed in the days to come.

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Lily Lynch

Lily is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Balkanist Magazine. She lives in Belgrade, Serbia.