On November 27, 2017, U.S. Department of State published a short article about Proposals Affecting the Independence of the Judiciary in Romania (emphasis mine):

The United States notes with concern that the Parliament of Romania is considering legislation that could undermine the fight against corruption and weaken judicial independence in Romania. This legislation, which was originally proposed by the Ministry of Justice, threatens the progress Romania has made in recent years to build strong judicial institutions shielded from political interference. We urge the Parliament of Romania to reject proposals that weaken the rule of law and endanger the fight against corruption.

This article covers the context under which this press release was made (emphasis mine):

US is one of Romania’s most important international allies. The two countries have a strategic partnership for security and economic development.

US Ambassador to Romania Hans Klemm made a similar statement on Monday, after a new massive protest in Bucharest and other Romanian cities on Sunday evening against the proposed changes to the justice laws [...]

The initial draft provided that the president would be removed from the process of naming chief prosecutors and that the Judicial Inspection, the institution in charge of investigating magistrate misconduct, would be placed under the Justice Ministry’s authority. The changes have been criticized for placing the judiciary under political control.

Some parliament members argued that this press release means interference with legislative process of another country:

“We want to point out that in any discussion with our partners we have to start from a fundamental constitutional principle, the same in the US and Romania, according to which the debates, decisions and votes in the Parliament take place in the name of the sovereignty of the people and cannot be the object of any form of pressure,” reads the quoted communiqué issued by the heads of the two Chambers.

On the other hand, many political analysts and politicians argue that the "strategic partnership" can justify such reactions:

The communique in which the U.S. State Department is asking Parliament not to adopt the amendments to the judicial laws is “unprecedented and grave,” this “imperative request” coming from our strategic partner being in the interest of Romanians [...]

Question: Under what conditions can US can influence legislative process in another country?

1 Answer 1


Whenever it wants to.

Governments often avoid comment on purely internal affairs of other countries, such as election campaigns. But this is no more than a polite convention of diplomacy, and it has many exceptions.

The USA routinely comments on the internal policies of other nations. For example, the State Department publishes reports evaluating human rights around the world.

On occasion, the US government intervenes in contentious internal issues relating to its closest allies. An example would be President Obama's remarks in the UK before the Brexit referendum, expressing opposition to the UK leaving the EU.

Of course, people in countries whose politics are being criticised by the US government will not necessarily welcome such criticism. But the US government is free to say whatever it likes, and as a practical matter there is nothing any other nation can do to stop it.

As a side note, when the USA wishes to alter the internal politics of another nation, it has been (and continues to be) willing to use much more forceful means than a polite request. Examples include Iraq 2003-present, Cuba 1958-present, Iran 1953-present, and the ongoing campaign of drone strikes.

  • Fortunately, OP example is a case when US' comments are mostly welcomed. I thought that this kind of interference is somehow against some diplomatic principle, but maybe I have watched too much Start Trek :).
    – Alexei
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 9:18
  • 2
    @Alexei: You're not entirely wrong -- as a polite diplomatic convention, governments usually don't comment on purely internal matters in other countries (eg. election campaigns). But governments consider themselves free to break the conventions of politeness, if the matter at hand is particularly important (human rights) and/or has external consequences (Brexit). Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 9:25
  • It is not true that "there is nothing any other nation can do to stop it". They can use threat or war, for example. Look at North Korea, would you say they do nothing about foreign comments on their internal matters ?
    – Distic
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 17:04
  • My example of much more forceful means beats your example of forceful means to alter the internal politics of another nation.
    – user4012
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 18:24
  • @distic: Last I checked, the US government was still free to communicate its opinions. In theory someone could destroy the USA, but short of that it will continue to communicate as it sees fit. Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 22:11

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