Liviu Dragnea, the leader of Romania’s ruling Social Democrat party (PSD) has described street protests earlier this month as a “failed coup”. He also accused the country’s president, Klaus Iohannis, of encouraging protestors by criticising the police response which left hundreds of demonstrators injured.

As many as 100,000 protestors, many having returned from abroad, packed the streets on the weekend of August 10 to protest the government. Police responded with tear gas and water cannon.

In an interview with the Antena 3 TV station, Dragnea, who was sentenced in June to three and a half years in prison for inciting other to abuse of office, said he would like to impeach Iohannis.

As reported by the Reuters news agency, Dragnea is appealing the charges against him. He is barred from becoming prime minister because of a previous conviction for electoral fraud. His party has repeatedly sought to relax corruption laws, claiming that prosecutors are politically motivated.

In a separate report, the Associated Press (AP) noted that Romanians have regularly protested what they claim are government moves to weaken the anti-corruption fight.

Eugen Tomac, who heads the opposition Popular Movement Party, on August 22 compared Dragnea to late Communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu, who claimed, prior to his December 1989 execution, that foreign agents had engineered his downfall.