Romania’s battle with graft continues, following the resignation of Prime Minister Victor Ponta’s government in mid-November amid street protests against corruption, the like of which has not been seen since the fall of communism. Ponta, who managed to survive the collapse of several coalitions and defeat in last year’s presidential election, was finally toppled by outrage at the Colectiv nightclub fire in Bucharest. This fire claimed the lives of 60 people, and fast became a symbol of the poor safety standards and lack of accountability facilitated by corruption.
Ahead of parliamentary and local elections due in 2016, it remains to be seen whether the regulatory crackdown against systemic corruption will continue over the medium term. Much is at stake for investors given that institutional bottlenecks, caused by red tape and corruption, have constrained levels of foreign investment in recent years. Nevertheless, unprecedented accusations of money laundering and tax evasion levied at Ponta suggest that there will be little let-up in the months ahead, irrespective of the political parties supporting the incumbent government.