Support for Romania's ruling party slides after graft decree debacle
Reuters, Wednesday 15 Feb 2017

Support for Romania's ruling Social Democrats has dropped since the party won a parliamentary election two months ago, an opinion poll showed on Tuesday, as it grapples with the fallout from an embarrassing U-turn over an unpopular graft decree.

The crowd-funded ISSPOL survey showed voter backing for the leftist party had sunk to 31 percent from 46 percent at the Dec. 11 election, and that more than half of all Romanians feel the country is headed in the wrong direction.

The decree would have decriminalised some graft offences and turned back the clock on the fight against corruption in the European Union state. At a time the new government might have hoped to be enjoying a political honeymoon, the decree unleashed a wave of mass street protests.

While Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu's government survived a vote of no-confidence in parliament last week, voters are angry.

"Normally, immediately after an election, the number of those saying things are moving in a good direction rises sharply," said sociologist Mircea Kivu. "The government succeeded in getting people out into the streets just a month after the election."

The survey showed support for the centre-right opposition National Liberal Party and the anti-graft Save Romania Union at 17 and 7 percent respectively, slightly below their own election results.

In a sign of voter disaffection towards the political class, the survey indicated that two in every five voters either did not know if they would vote or how they would vote if there were a new election.

A majority of respondents said they supported President Klaus Iohannis's plans for a referendum over anti-corruption reforms.

Anti-government protests persist outside government headquarters in the capital, Bucharest, although turnout has fallen dramatically from a week ago. The demonstrators say they cannot trust the cabinet to rule responsibly.

The poll on Tuesday was commissioned by Geeks for Democracy and financed by crowd funding. It was conducted between Feb. 7 to 11 and has a margin of error of 3.2 percent.