Romanian Prime Minister + Bucharest Mayor Resign After Protests Over Nightclub Fire
In the wake of 31 deaths and more than 180 injuries following a fire that erupted at a Buchrest nightclub on Friday (Oct. 30), Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta and Mayor Christian Popescu Piedone have stepped down from their respective offices.
“I’m handing in my mandate,” Ponta, the head of the Social Democratic party in Romania, said on Wednesday (via the Guardian). “I’m resigning -- and implicitly my government too. I am obliged to take note of the legitimate grievances which exist in society. I hope handing in my and my government’s mandate will satisfy the demands of protestors.”
The fire ignited at the Colectiv Club during a show by local heavy metal band Goodbye to Gravity after pyrotechnics reportedly set fire to foam pillars in the venue. In addition to potentially unsafe and flammable materials within the club, the venue is also suspected of being over capacity the night of the concert and not having sufficient emergency exits or the permits required to host concerts or the pyrotechnics used. The Colectiv Club’s owners -- Costin Mincu, Alin George Anastasescu and Paul Gancea -- were arrested on Monday for suspected manslaughter.
The tragedy prompted protests in the Romanian capital on Tuesday, drawing an estimated 20,000 people accusing the government of corruption that allowed for such clubs to go on without meeting safety protocols.
Piedone, who served as the mayor of the district in which Colectiv Club is located, took responsibility for the club’s fire. “I assume the moral blame,” he wrote on Facebook. “As for the legal [blame] I will leave it to justice to pronounce.”
The recent protests were a tipping point for the embattled prime minister. Ponta was indicted in July for charges that include tax evasion, money laundering, making false statements and more. The charges precede his election as prime minister in 2012.