Hundreds of Romanians protested against the government's austerity measures on Saturday, but heavy snow deterred many from pressing a week of occasionally violent demonstrations demanding the government resign.
Romania had suffered little of the unrest seen in other austerity-hit European countries like Greece until now and while the protests have been relatively small, they have marked the country's worst violence in more than a decade.
About 100 demonstrators met in Bucharest's University Square, a major crossroads in the middle of the city known as 'Kilometre Zero of Democracy' for its role in the 1989 anti-communist revolution, a smaller number than in preceding days.
People also took to the streets in other cities to demand the resignation of President Traian Basescu and close ally Prime Minister Emil Boc, who cut salaries by 25 percent and raised a sales tax to put the European Union's second-poorest country on a more solid footing after deep recession.
Every day this government remains in power is a day in which Romania loses money, loses opportunities, loses jobs, said USL co-leader Victor Ponta.
Boc is struggling to hang on to power before a parliamentary election due late in the year but the protests are unlikely to be enough to force early polls or change policies which maintain an International Monetary Fund-led deal.
On Thursday, some 7,000 opposition supporters rallied in Bucharest and some joined a separate anti-austerity protest, where police fired tear gas against demonstrators, some of whom threw bricks and rubbish bins.
That was the biggest demonstration in Romania since 2010, but still far smaller than in countries like Spain, Greece, France or Britain.
Opinion polls put Boc's centrist PDL at 18 percent support, compared with about 50 percent for the USL, a fragile leftist alliance, and analysts say the protests are unlikely to affect policy or force the government out at this stage.
They've done only bad moves, the government does nothing to raise our living standards. Our low pay makes us second-hand Europeans, said 42-year old Daniela Lupu, a public clerk at the demonstrations.
Basescu has so far not commented on the protests and Boc, visiting a motorway construction site, stressed the government's achievement of economic stability, with growth of about 2.5 percent last year after recession.
I understand the unhappiness of Romanians, Boc said. I am just as convinced, along with my colleagues, that the measures were absolutely necessary and correct.
(editing by Elizabeth Piper)