Large crowds rallied on Saturday in Bucharest, Romania’s capital city, the latest in ongoing mass demonstrations against revisions to the country’s corruption laws that have gripped the country since last year.
Braving snowy conditions and freezing temperatures, protesters gathered in the city’s University Square before marching to the Parliament. Once outside the building, the crowd, whose numbers were estimated to be in the tens of thousands, sang the national anthem, and people waved their cellphones in the air, creating an impressive display of light, according to the national press agency Agerpres.
Those gathered were protesting against new legislation, passed by Parliament in December and currently waiting to be signed into law, that critics say weakens the country’s judicial system and makes it harder to prosecute high-level corruption crimes.
Other demonstrations were held in smaller cities around the country on Saturday, according to Agerpres, including in Cluj-Napoca, Timisoara and Sibiu where thousands also rallied.
Those gathered in Bucharest chanted anticorruption slogans, denounced the current government and called for early elections, according to several local reports.
The controversial new legislation still needs to be signed into law by President Klaus Iohannis, who has long been a critic of the amendments. He wrote to the country’s Constitutional Court on Friday, saying one amendment that would allow public officials to own businesses “diminished the standards of integrity” expected from public officials, according to The Associated Press.
Some fear the new legislation, if signed into law, would mark a step backward for the country.
Last year, Romania saw its largest protests in decades after the government moved to decriminalize some corruption offenses, galvanizing the masses to denounce the move.