Image by Mihai Petre, via Wikimedia Commons.  Accessed 31.10.17

 

The expanding ambitions of Romania’s most influential political player, Liviu Dragnea, has triggered an informal power struggle between his block, and the country’s anti-corruption forces. Through an open battle of political narratives, these blocks are at odds over a proposed reform of the Romanian judicial system. If passed, these reforms threaten the independence of the judiciary.

These proposed judicial reforms are believed to be a political response initiated by Dragnea, the president of the Social Democrat Party (PSD), against the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA). The DNA has been investigating Dragnea on significant allegations of corruption. If these reforms are passed, there are concerns that Romania could be well on the road to becoming a clientelist state, captured by the PSD ruling elite. This would, in a worst-case scenario, increase opacity and corruption in the Romanian market, whilst decreasing competition.

Impact

  • The power struggle that is taking place in Romania is likely to affect the independence of the judiciary. A series of legal reforms could increase the political exposure of judges and magistrates, and would ultimately hinder anti-corruption investigations against the ruling elite.
  • One of the main concerns linked with these proposed reforms is that they would further consolidate an environment conducive to the emergence of a de facto system of crony capitalism, led by the PSD cadres. This would inevitably impact the overall competitiveness of the Romanian market, making it less attractive for international investors further forced to deal with an increasingly opaque market.