Romanian Prime Minister Emil Boc has resigned today in order to “defuse political and social tension” after more than three weeks of protests against austerity measures.
Speaking after a cabinet meeting, PM Emil Boc said he had given up the government’s mandate as “it is the moment for important political decisions”.
Although Romania’s economy grew last year, the government has been hit by three weeks of demonstrations.
Emil Boc government has imposed a 25% cut in public sector wages and a freeze on pensions.
Sales tax was also increased to 24%, in a country seen as Europe’s second poorest.
Romania needs to implement the measures to qualify for the next installment of 20 billion Euros ($25 billion) bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Romanian Prime Minister Emil Boc has resigned today in order to "defuse political and social tension" after more than three weeks of protests against austerity measures
In a statement, Emil Boc, 45, said that in a time of crisis, his centrist government had not taken part in a popularity contest but had acted to save the country.
“I know that I made difficult decisions, but the fruits have begun to appear,” PM Emil Boc said.
Elections in Romania are scheduled to take place in November and there is speculation that President Traian Basescu may seek to appoint a technocrat-led government until the vote.
Protests broke out last month, initially against the resignation of popular junior health minister Raed Arafat, but soon became an expression of discontent against austerity and corruption.
The left-wing opposition USL alliance, headed by Victor Ponta and Crin Antonescu, leaders of Social Democrat Party and Liberal Party, is currently leading the opinion polls. Victor Ponta suggested last week that Romania should either have early elections similar to Spain, or temporarily install a technocrat administration, like Italy.
Protests continued today in capital Bucharest and other cities in Romania, the third consecutive day of street riots in the country.
Demonstrations spread in Bucharest from downtown University Square to other areas in the center of the city. Riot police increased in number after a group of football supporters joined the over 1,000 people who were already in the University Square. The supporters, nicknamed “ultras”, threw flamed bottles, crackers, stones and even trash bins towards the gendarmes. Most of protesters covered their faces to avoid being recognized and fined by the authorities.
Protests continued today in capital Bucharest and other cities in Romania, the third consecutive day of street riots in the country
Protesters in Bucharest and across Romania ask for the dismissal of Romanian president Traian Basescu, of the Government led by Emil Boc, as well as for salary and pensions raise.
Some were even protesting against the Rosia Montana gold mine project.
Thousands of Romanians took their anger to the streets over the week-end, with protests ending in clashes with the Police downtown Bucharest. Riot police and protesters alike were injured. Over 40 people were taken into the Police custody on Saturday evening, after a heated evening in the University Square downtown Bucharest. Riot police managed to disperse protesters by firing tear gas and increasing troops on the street on Saturday evening in Bucharest.
These were the most heated protests in Romania so far, after the country applied some harsh measures, such as a 25% public salary cut and an increase in VAT. The recent events show the decreasing popularity of president Traian Basescu and the Democratic Liberal Party (PDL) Government led by Emil Boc.
The spark for the recent protests in the Romanian capital was the proposed health law, which, if enforced, would have brought changes to the country’s emergency health system.
Sub-secretary of state Raed Arafat’s resignation from the Health Ministry over the planned changes to the system was the pretext that send Romanians protesting.
Initially started mid-last week as support demonstrations for Dr. Raed Arafat, the protests soon turned against the Romanian president Traian Basescu, asking for his and the Government’s dismissal, and for early elections. Hundreds of people in other Romanian cities, as Iasi, Cluj, Timisoara joined the protests.
President Traian Basescu was publicly for the changes in the health law and quarreled on TV with Dr. Raed Arafat. On Friday evening however, he publicly asked the Government to withdraw the proposal, saying it saw the public protest against it.