Romania’s president has harshly criticised the government’s attempt to overhaul the penal code. Klaus Iohannis described the ruling Social Democrat party as a “dictatorship” and accused lawmakers of trying to decriminalise abuse of office.

The amendments passed swiftly through the lower house of parliament (168 to 97 votes). Critics noted that the bill came hot on the heels of a Supreme Court decision finding ruling Social Democrat party leader Liviu Dragnea guilty on charges of abuse of office.

As reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, the penal code amendments require prosecutors to prove without a doubt that the defendant committed the deed for his or her own benefit, or to benefit their close relatives.

Also, officials who make less than €407 while committing their crime would not be prosecuted. And the maximum jail sentence for abuse of office would been reduced from seven to five years.

As for those convicted of abuse of office, but who are over age 60, they would only serve a third of their prison sentence.

According to DW, a spokesman with the European Commission said Brussels will examine the final text of the bill to see if it is compatible with EU law. He said the European Commission “will not hesitate to take action where necessary to ensure such compatibility”.

In a separate report, the Reuters news agency noted the controversial bill appears unlikely to complete its passage onto the statute book because the president will not sign it into law.

Iohannis, and the centrist opposition, have pledged to block the measures. “What is going on this days is the dictatorship of majority,” he told reporters, adding he would challenge the changes in the coming days. “The ruling PSD party has quickly managed to destroy the dignity of the legislative act.”