Romania rages against the regime
Over 10,000 are expected to gather in the capital, Bucharest, on Thursday. The ongoing protests look set to become the largest anti-government action since 2004, when President Traian Basescu took office. Biting austerity and a feeling the government is not listening have spilled over into anger, even violence.Some 60 people have reportedly been injured and over 113 arrested as demonstrators clashed with riot police, hurling stones and petrol bombs, in an outpouring of rage against the government.The violent rallies began last week over a highly unpopular health bill which has since been withdrawn.Night and day, people come to scream their defiance. The demonstration has been initiated by the opposition parties of Romania’s Social Liberal Union – the Social Democratic Party, the National Liberal Party and the Conservative Party. Young Romanians feel trapped, and are directing most of their anger at the president, Traian Basescu. As RT’s Tom Barton reports from the capital, Bucharest, protesters accuse Basescu of trampling over democracy and presiding over a political elite riddled with corruption.“We want to take Basescu down! Down with Basescu! is the cry from demonstrators. An International Monetary Fund loan in 2009 came with tough conditions. The government has introduced a 25 per cent salary cut for public sector employees, a 15 per cent pensions cut, wound down social programs and dismissed hundreds of thousands of public servants. The austerity measures were sharply criticized by trade unions, who dubbed them ”social genocide” and organized mass protests.And now it is the people who are being forced to pay for the mistakes of the few who steered the country to economic disaster.“This was done at the expense of the Romanian state, and now those who weren’t guilty of creating the situation, and who hadn't even profited from it, have had to pay for those who had profited,”economic analyst Ilie Serbanescu complained to RT.Meanwhile, the government is shrugging off responsibility, saying international economic conditions are to blame for the country’s woes. “Let's not forget that we're in the eye of a storm, of an economic European storm. All around us, unfortunately, is a mighty tempest with economic consequences that inevitably affect us too,” laments the country’s Prime Minister, Emil Boc. “Not good enough,” say the opposition, who argue, of course, that they could do better. “Every day this corrupt, inefficient government stays in power is a day lost for Romania. Our duty is to shorten that period as much as we can and as fast as we can by fair elections,” rages Victor Ponta from the opposition Social Democratic party. With many now accepting there is no escape economically, politics appears to offer them the only hope of change.