Romania: now the judges are on strike
First the teachers and now 3,000 Romanian judges and prosecutors have gone on an unofficial strike. The background is a draft law due to be debated in parliament this week which foresees a gradual increase in the retirement age for magistrates and a reduction in their pensions. Under the current law they have the option to retire after 25 years of service. Is the protest justified?
Old law outdated
The Romanian service of Deutsche Welle approves of the plan to adjust the retirement age and pensions of magistrates:
“Since 2005 magistrates have had the option to retire after only 25 years of service. Back then Romania’s main motivation was to get rid of the judges and prosecutors who had worked for the Ceaușescu regime. This strategy worked, and in the following four years almost 800 magistrates retired. ... Now the time has probably come to change the law because it has achieved its goal. ... A calculation by the investigative web portal Rise Project shows that not only is the average pension for magistrates 11.3 times higher than that of the average taxpayer, it is also paid over a period that is two and a half times longer.”
No popular support for this strike
The public perception of this strike is very different to what it was with the teachers’ strike, writes Spotmedia:
“After three decades of democracy, Romanian society has matured and understands what’s going on. ... This is the main reason why the teachers in Romania received a surprising level of support from the population. Citizens took the view that these people had been lied to by various governments and that the education system was chronically underfunded. But in the case of the magistrates, public support is completely lacking. Instead, there is great dissatisfaction in society that the corruption investigators have laid down their arms, that far too many decisions have been made in favour of the privileged, that the crime rate is rising and that the courts are operating in slow motion.”