(Adds quotes, detail)
BUCHAREST Feb 4 The leader of Romania's ruling
Social Democrats (PSD) said on Saturday the government might
withdraw a corruption decree that has triggered massive street
protests and international condemnation since its approval
earlier this week.
The decree to decriminalise some graft offences is seen as
the biggest retreat on reforms since Romania joined the European
Union in 2007. If enforced, it would decriminalize
abuse-of-power offences involving sums below 200,000 lei
PSD chief Liviu Dragnea, who is viewed as leading
government policy, said he would meet other senior party figures
to discuss the fallout from the decree.
"There may even be talks to withdraw it if the prime
minister would want that," he told local news portal DCNews.
"I feel I can't keep under control from the centre ... the
pressure from regional organisations that can bring one million
people onto the streets of Bucharest," Dragnea said in an
"As a result, I decided to meet coalition partners to
propose a solution to solve the deadlock," he added.
Together with long-standing junior ally ALDE, the PSD has an
overwhelming majority in parliament.
Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu's PSD-led government has so
far firmly rejected any calls to rescind the decree, though
splits in the cabinet emerged on Thursday with the resignation
of a minister and a call from a vice-president of the PSD for
the measure to be withdrawn.
The PSD leader picked Grindeanu to head the government after
Dragnea himself was barred by a previous vote-rigging
If the decree takes force, it could put an end to the
ongoing trial of Dragnea, accused of using his political
influence to secure state salaries for two people working at his
party headquarters between 2006 and 2013.
Dozens of other political figures from all parties stand to
benefit from the decree.
(Reporting by Radu Marinas; Editing by Mark Trevelyan and Helen