Further Protests in Romania After Prime Minister's Shock Resignation

Bucharest protester
A demonstrator shouts anti-corruption slogans during a street protest in Bucharest, Romania on November 4, the day after Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta resigned. Reuters/Inquam Photos/Octav Ganea

Thousands of Romanian protesters marched in the capital Bucharest last night demanding further political reform and early elections, on the day that Prime Minister Victor Ponta resigned in response to a deadly nightclub fire.

Around 30,000 people attended the march, with rallies also held in cities including Cluj, Timisoara and Constanta, according to the BBC. Protesters marched toward parliament shouting: "Get out of your homes if you care'' and "Don't be afraid, the country is rising up." Some of their signs read, "Down with the political mafia."

The latest unrest follows protests on Tuesday night, when around 20,000 demonstrators filled the streets of the capital in response to a fire at a nightclub last Friday that killed more than 30 people and prompted national outrage. Protesters say that safety at the venue was compromised due to corruption between officials, which they believe is endemic in public life.

Ponta is currently facing trial on corruption charges, including forgery, money laundering and being an accessory to tax evasion, all charges he denies, and has been under pressure to resign since he was indicted in September. His first court hearings will begin later this month.

President Klaus Iohannis, who has called for a "sea change" in Romanian politics in the wake of the resignations, says he will begin consulting political parties on Thursday to choose a prime minister and form a new government.

It seems likely that Ponta's Social Democratic Party (PSD) will remain in the existing coalition government until parliamentary elections, which are not due until December 2016. The three leftist parties that form a majority in parliament have so far showed no signs of a split, according to Reuters.