Decriminalizing graft in Romania didn't work out very well

Romania’s prime minister said on Saturday he was scrapping a decree that would have shielded dozens of politicians from prosecution for corruption, bowing to one of the biggest protests since the fall of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in 1989.

Sorin Grindeanu said the decree – which decriminalized several graft offences in what the government said was a bid to relive pressure on the prison system – would be repealed on Sunday, just five days after is was approved by the cabinet.

It would have come into force at the end of next week.

“I do not want to divide Romania. Romania can’t be split into two. Right now Romania seems broken in two. My last desire is to witness this,” Grindeanu said, referring to the public disgust at the decree which brought hundreds of thousands onto the streets every day since it was passed.

While he made the announcement live on television, some of the anti-corruption protesters outside his office, which police estimated at 170,000, chanted: “Resign! Resign!” and waved the Romanian flag.