Romanian civil society organisations held a protest in Bucharest to protect the Romanian language. They intended it as a continuation of protests held in July of last year, when organisers rallied against the then newly adopted Administrative Code in front of the government building. This time they gathered in front of the presidential palace, upon the call of an organisation called the Path of the Nation, as well as the mobilization by the Civic Forum of Romanians in Covasna, Hargita and Mureș counties.

The more than 100 protesters marched with giant flags, singing patriotic chants and holding huge signs with messages like: “the nation state was written in the constitution with the blood of Romanians” and “Romanian is the only official language in Romania”.

In his speech the initiator of the gathering, Mihai Tîrnăveanu, the leader of the Path of the Nation association stated that – by demanding that linguistic rights are also guaranteed in the local offices of the central administration – the new Administrative Code basically elevates the right of using minority languages from the local to the national level, which according to his interpretation makes Hungarian the second official language of the state nationwide. The speaker also protested against the modifications introduced to the education law by the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (RMDSZ), which in his view obligates every university in Romania, irrespective of the language of teaching, to allow admission exams and final exams in Hungarian. In a petition the protesters asked the President not to promulgate the laws in question, and upon encouragement from their leader shouted the slogan “the Romanian language is the only master”.

The timing of this protest is due to the fact that in mid-February the Constitutional Court of Romania ruled that the emergency government ordinance through which the socialist government adopted the new Administrative Code last summer is constitutional.

Aside from spreading fear and intolerance regarding linguistic rights for national minorities, the fact that these nationalist Romanian organisations are protesting against the Administrative Code is also ironic, given that representatives of the Hungarian community have also criticized this new version, arguing that it severely curbs minority rights and is a setback compared to previous provisions on minority language use.