Romanians have said, 'enough is enough', and have taken to the streets in cities across the country, demanding an end to austerity measures. The police have attempted to 'calm' hostile crowds, by firing tear gas canisters at them. Numerous injuries and arrests followed.
People have taken to the streets in response to the government’s austerity measures, and the general poor living standards that many Romanians suffer. Protestors are calling for the resignation of the country’s President, Traian Basescu, and early elections.
The protests have been concentrated in ‘University Square’. Many have been waving flags with holes ripped out, symbolising the 1989 revolution that overthrew Nicolae Ceauscescu. Despite sub-zero temperatures, protestors spent hours in the square, chanting anti-government slogans, and blocking roads.
Police fired tear gas canisters into a hostile crowd, in what was laughably described as, ‘an attempt to calm them down’. The inevitable violence that resulted from the police calming tactics led to several demonstrators requiring hospital treatment. At least three police officers required treatment, including one for a head injury after being ‘stoned’ by protestors.
The unexpected spark for the protests is around on-going debate over massive health service reforms, and the resignation of a popular health minister. Basescu has now scrapped his reforms, due to health care staff, and the general public not wanting them. The reforms included more private sector service involvement in health care provision.
The health reforms are the latest in a long line of measures taken by the government over the last few years. Ordinary Romanians are now saying ‘enough is enough’. Salaries have been cut by 25% and tax has risen. Both of these were stipulations demanded by the IMF, otherwise Romania would have been refused a £20 billion bailout.