The largest anti-government crowds since the violent 1989 revolution that toppled dictator Nicolae Ceausescu succeeded Sunday in pressuring Romania’s new government to repeal a hastily adopted decree that would have eased penalties for official corruption.
The law, opposed by the influential Romanian Orthodox Church, would have weakened the country’s emerging anti-corruption effort, which has begun to make progress against a ruling culture accustomed to acting with impunity.
The government backed down Sunday following six days of street protests, but plans to introduce another version of the law in Parliament, where it would be debated and possibly passed.
The late-night introduction last week of an emergency ordinance< to turn a blind eye toward abuse in office by officials if the amount involved was less than about $48,500 provoked a lightning response from Romania’s civil society.
Nightly throngs in Bucharest and other major cities pit angry citizens who believe a modern, pro-European Romania must not condone corruption in high places against a moneyed elite that stands to benefit, if the law eventually passes.