Romania’s corruption fight is a smokescreen to weaken its democracy


The Guardian – David Clark

The recent rise of the populist right in Hungary and Poland has raised the alarm about the future of democracy in Europe, as constitutional safeguards, media pluralism and civil society come under sustained attack.

But there is another threat hiding in plain sight: the abuse of anti-corruption laws in Romania, a country often lauded as an example of successful reform in central and eastern Europe.

The country has been praised by EU leaders for its crackdown on graft, and its national anti-corruption body has been held up as a model for others to follow. But scratch beneath the surface and all is not as it appears.

In compiling a recent report for the Henry Jackson Society thinktank we found a body ofevidence to suggest that the Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) is abusing its power and reverting to communist-era methods to serve its own interests and pursue political vendettas.

Significantly, the critics include a number of former supporters, including Traian Băsescu, Romania’s president from 2004 to 2014, who initiated the country’s first major anti-corruption drive but has now accused the agency of violating human rights and acting outside the constitution.