Invoking Trump-Like Rhetoric, Romania’s Leaders Chip Away at Independent Institutions

Invoking Trump-Like Rhetoric, Romania’s Leaders Chip Away at Independent Institutions
Liviu Dragnea, the head of Romania’s Social Democratic Party, is surrounded by media as he arrives at the anti-corruption prosecutors’ office, Bucharest, Romania, April 27, 2018 (AP photo by Vadim Ghirda).

After the storm, the calm? A month after Romania’s most powerful man was convicted of abuse of power and sentenced to three and a half years in prison, some Romanians expected a political earthquake. Instead, much of the country is heading to their summer holiday on the beaches of the Black Sea.

But the political drama in Bucharest isn’t over. Liviu Dragnea, the head of the ruling Social Democratic Party, or PSD, is appealing his late June conviction, while continuing his bellicose rhetoric about a “deep state” that is out to get him, picking up a line from U.S. President Donald Trump.

And on July 9, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, who hails from the nominally liberal to right-of-center opposition, finally confirmed the dismissal of Laura Codruta Kovesi, the doughty head of Romania’s National Anti-Corruption Directorate, or DNA, bowing to constitutional reality after a years-long struggle by leading politicians, including Dragnea, to clip the organization’s wings. Iohannis had blocked the government’s attempts to sack Kovesi, but the Constitutional Court ruled that he could not overrule the justice minister.

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