A protester walks by a riot police line outside the government headquarters, in Bucharest, Romania, Friday, Aug. 10, 2018. Romanians who live abroad have begun an anti-government protest calling on the left-wing government to resign and an early election. The expatriates, some of whom drove across Europe for the demonstration, are angry about the Romania is governed. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Romanian expatriates stage anti-govt protest in Bucharest

August 10, 2018 - 1:00 pm

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Thousands of Romanians who live abroad flocked to an anti-government protest in Bucharest on Friday, urging the left-wing government to resign and call an early election.

The expatriates, some of whom drove across Europe to attend the demonstration, are angry about how Romania is being governed by the Social Democrats. Since the party won power in 2016, the government has proposed new laws that critics say weaken the nation's fight against corruption.

An estimated 3 million Romanians are living abroad, and some say they left because of corruption, low wages and lack of opportunities.

"We don't want our country to be governed by thieves who line their own pockets," said Georgeta Anghel, 43, who's lived in Valencia, Spain, for 14 years. "If nothing changes here, what kind of future will our son have in the future?"

Liviu Dragnea, the head of the Social Democrats, has received a 3½-year prison sentence for abuse of power in office. He is appealing that decision. He is unable to be prime minister due to another conviction in 2016 for vote-rigging.

Hundreds of thousands of Romanians have signed a petition demanding a law that would ban people indicted for corruption and other offenses from office, but it's unlikely to pass Parliament where the Social Democrats and their allies have a majority.

The protesters on Friday waved Romanian, European Union, Spanish, Italian and other flags, yelled "Justice, not corruption!" and called the ruling party "the red plague" outside government offices in the capital.

Protesters briefly scuffled with riot police when they tried to break through a police line guarding the government offices. At least one man was detained.

Cristina Andrei arrived from Stockholm, Sweden, where she lives now with her two sons.

"I've come here for my children, who don't know how to read or write Romanian," the 42-year-old cashier said. "This country is rich and beautiful but it's run by thieves."

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