Big laundry in Romania
BSSB.BE intellinews.com 20/11/2018
* Romanian PM changes eight ministers in government reshuffle
Romania’s Prime Minister Viorica Dancila announced a government reshuffle on November 19, changing eight ministers out of the total 26.
Dancila is Romania’s prime minister, but the government is basically run by Liviu Dragnea, leader of the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD). Dragnea himself was not able to take over the prime minister post because he had received a suspended jail sentence, instead appointing a series of proxies. Dancila is the PSD’s third prime minister since the party returned to power at the end of 2016
- The reshuffle is likely to strengthen Dragnea’s position as party leader as it resulted in some of his opponents, among them Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Regional Development Paul Stanescu and Bucharest mayor Gabriela Firea, being left without a job.
- The changes come at a time when investigative journalism portal RISE Project Romania has published a new series of photos and videos hinting at connections between Dragnea and controversial construction company Tel Drum, which is being investigated for which is being investigated for EU funding frauds.
- At the November 19 PSD meeting, six ministers were fired, and the labour minister was proposed to take over the transport portfolio. The defence minister had announced his resignation before the party meeting.
Stanescu, who together with other party leaders signed a letter back in September asking for Dragnea’s resignation, was removed from his post. The leader of the PSD’s Dambovita branch, Adrian Tutuianu, who had also signed the letter, was expelled from the PSD earlier in November, together with Marian Neacsu, the PSD’s Ialomita branch leader, another critic of the party leadership.
Stanescu’s post in the government will be taken over by Ilan Laufer, who served as minister for the business environment in a previous PSD government.
The PSD proposed Marius Bulai as the new labour minister, Alexandru Petrescu as communications minister and Nicolae Badalau as economy minister. Daniel Breaz was named to take over the culture portfolio, while Labour Minister Lia Olguta Vasilescu was proposed to take over the transport minister post and Gabriel Les to become defence minister.
At the same meeting, Firea, probably Dragnea’s main opponent within the party, was left without political support and removed from all leadership posts in the party. She had already resigned from the post of interim head of the party’s Bucharest branch prior to the meeting. However, she was directly elected as Bucharest mayor and the party has no power to remove her from the post.
While some of Dragnea’s main opponents were removed, other former opponents seem to be back in favour. Former education minister and former leader of the Bucharest branch of the PSD, Ecaterina Andronescu, who has also asked for a change of government and called on Dragnea to resign, was offered the education minister post at the end of last week.
Despite the reshuffle looking like the result of an internal party struggle, Dancila said that it was performed because “there is always room for something better” and that the activity of some ministries should be boosted.
“We are taking over the presidency of the EU, we need people who should be involved more, who have more experience,” Dancila said.
Earlier in November, President Klaus Iohannis said Romania is not ready to take over the EU presidency in January next year. Finnish prime minister Juha Sipila has said that his country was ready to step in to take over the EU presidency as of next year if Romania asked for it. However, the government in Bucharest insists that the country will be ready.
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