Romanian parliament approves president's proposal for anti-corruption referendum

Romanian parliament approves president's proposal for anti-corruption referendum Romania's parliament

BUCHAREST (Romania), February 13 (SeeNews) - Romania's parliament on Monday unanimously approved a proposal by president Klaus Iohannis for a referendum on public support for the fight against corruption.

Parliament's decision comes after weeks of mass protests against a government decree easing penalties for corruption offences, which the government subsequently withdrew under street pressure.

All 310 lawmakers present in the 463-seat parliament voted in favour of the referendum proposed a fortnight ago by Iohannis, a staunch advocate of the country's anti-corruption drive.

The date of the referendum and the exact phrasing of the questions are yet to be determined.

Iohannis came up with the idea for the referendum at the end of January, when the government first revealed its intentions to adopt an emergency decree that eases or scraps penalties for corruption offences. The decree was approved by the government on January 31 at night and hastily published in the country's Official Gazette, sparking the biggest rallies since the fall of communism in 1989. The decree would have made abuse of office punishable by jail only if the sums involved exceeded 200,000 lei ($47,500/44,000 euro). Yielding to pressure from the protesters, the government repealed the decree on February 5, but street rallies continue with demands for the government's resignation.

A vote of no confidence against the coalition government failed last week as the opposition in parliament lacked enough votes, while the MPs from the parties in the coalition did not vote.

Last week Iohannis said that he does not want the government to resign, even though he found it responsible for the crisis.

(1 euro = 4.5019 lei)




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