Government reshuffle imminent
Romania’s ruling Social Democrat Party has withdrawn support for Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu and his cabinet. The move is likely to bring down Grindeanu’s government, which has only been in power since January. Romania PM refuses to resign after party withdraws support.
For the last several weeks there have been constant rumours regarding a Government reshuffle, rumors that were fueled by press statements and other public comments on this topic. Several Important political figures of the PSD-ADLE coalition addressed critics to several of the ministers in office, most criticized being the Minister of Finance Viorel Stefan (PSD) and the Minister of Justice Tudorel Toader.
Some of the most vocal figures in criticizing the Grindeanu cabinet are:
– ALDE leader and Chairman of the Senate Calin Popescu Tariceanu
– PSD Minister of Labour Lia Olguta Vasilescu
– Mayor of Bucharest (member of PSD) Gabriela Firea
– PSD Senator & Executive President of the PSD Niculae Badalau
II. DECISION DAY
PSD leader Liviu Dragnea announced that on June 14th the party will held a meeting of its Executive Committee in order to assess and to evaluate the performances of the Grindeanu cabinet in accordance to its objectives set out in the Governing Programme. The ExeC meeting was scheduled to begin at 4 PM at the Palace of the Parliament.
ALDE withdraws support
Before the PSD ExeC meeting to begin, Chairman of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) Calin Popescu-Tariceanu has announced that his formation has withdrawn political support for Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu’s Government, mentioning ALDE ministers are ready to resign.
The ALDE chairman explained that on Wednesday’s meeting of the party’s Political Bureau, he introduced two documents regarding the fulfillment of the governing programme and argued that out of a total of over 390 measures that the Executive should have taken, 260 are still not implemented.
The ALDE chairman also stated that following an internal assessment on the activity of its ministers, he is satisfied about how they fulfilled their duties.
The ALDE ministers in the Grindeanu Cabinet are:
– Minister for Foreign Affairs Teodor Melescanu
– Minister of the Environment & Vice Prime Minister Gratiela Gavrilescu
– Minister of Energy Toma Petcu
– Minister for the Relation with Parliament Viorel Ilie
PSD Executive Committee meeting
Before the meeting began, information circulated in the mass-media that not all the PSD ministers of the Grindeanu cabinet resigned from their offices, and that several important figures are supporting Mr. Grindeanu as Prime Minister.
Ministers whom are supporting Mr. Grindeanu
Minister of Defence Viorel Les
Minister of Public Finance Viorel Stefan
Minister of Justice Tudorel Toader
Minister of Business Environment Alexandru Petrescu
Minister of Culture Ioan Vulpescu
Minister of Communications Augustin Jianu
Ministers who resigned
Vice Prime Minister & Minister of Regional Development Sevil Shhaideh
Minister of Internal Affairs Carmen Dan
Minister of Agriculture Petre Daea
Minister of Education Pavel Nastase
Minister of Labour Lia Olguta Vasilescu
Minister of Economy Mihai Tudose
Minister of Transport Alexandru Cuc
Minister of Health Florian Bodog
Minister of Waters and Forests Adriana Petcu
Minister of R&I Serban Valeca
Minister of Youth and Sports Marius Dunca
Minister of Tourism Mircea Dobre
The ExeC Meeting – Outcome
The party held a performance review on Wednesday night and found that Grindeanu’s government had failed to fulfill an ambitious governing and economic reform program. The performance review was presented to the PSD ExeC by the former minister of finance Darius Valcov (who has been indicted by the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) for bribery and influence peddling in the file and he was placed under judicial control).
According to the evaluation presented by Mr. Valcov more that 60% of the measures contained in the Governing Programme have not been fulfilled by the Grindeanu Cabinet and that only 13% of the measures in the ruling programme have been achieved
At the end of the National Executive Committee, PSD has voted to strip Grindeanu Cabinet of political support. At the same time, ALDE, the PSD’s ruling partner, also withdrew its support for the current gov’t.
All 68 of PSD’s executive committee members voted for this decision. Moreover, the PSD leaders also voted a decision saying that any PSD member that would accept to join a new cabinet led by Grindeanu would be excluded.
According to sources quoted by News.ro, Sorin Grindeanu announced his colleagues in the National Executive Committee that he would not withdraw from the PM position, arguing that he had never had such an aggressive campaign from some party fellows in the past 20 years of his political activity like he has had in the past month.
He stated that out in those 97 actions stipulated in the ruling programme for the two semesters, only nine are not achieved.
PM Grindeanu would have blamed the PSD leaders in the ExeC that by their intention to topple down the Cabinet would help President Iohannis: “There was the GEO 13 and you did nothing, you were the same in the ExeC. We woke Klaus Iohannis up with that emergency ordinance. Now you are giving him the Government. Why?” Grindeanu would have told his colleagues.
Other sources claimed that Grindeanu had left the PSD meeting without making any statements and asked for Liviu Dragnea’s resignation, on the grounds that the PSD chairman would have chosen the ministers. He would have said he is willing to quit only if president Iohannis appoints a premier from PSD.
According to Digi24, Sorin Grindeanu has been offered even the position of the Financial Supervisory Authority (ASF) in exchange for his resignation.
Mr. Grindeanu’s reaction – press conference
Romanian Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu has refused to step down despite his left-wing Social Democrat Party (PSD) voting unanimously on Wednesday to withdraw support for him and his cabinet.
Grindeanu has rebuked calls for his resignation, saying the review showed that his cabinet had failed to introduce measures that were due by 2018 or later.
During a one-hour press conference from the Government’s headquarters, which ended at midnight, Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu dismantled the arguments brought for his cabinet’s dismissal. He challenged the evaluation of his cabinet’s activity and the party’s leaders, appealing to the hundreds of thousands of PSD members in what some would call a declaration of war to PSD leader Liviu Dragnea.
During his speech, Grindeanu emphasized that he has been a PSD member for 21 years and that the executive committee that voted to withdraw political support for his cabinet was not the same as the whole party. He added that the hundreds of thousands of PSD members were what made the party so powerful.
He also presented some of the accomplishments during his mandate, such as the fact that Romania had the highest economic growth in the EU in the first quarter, and also listed some of the projects in the Governing program that his cabinet had implemented. He said that 54 of the 97 projects that were supposed to be carried out in the first half of this year, according to the governing program, have been implemented and only 9 haven’t been started.
Grindeanu said that he was in no way involved in this evaluation, which he does not find fair.
The Prime Minister then stated that he would only resign after Romania’s center-right president, Klaus Iohannis, held parliamentary consultations and appointed a successor from the PSD. He also said that his resignation should be accompanied by that of Liviu Dragnea from PSD’s helm, as it was Dragnea who appointed all of the ministers in his cabinet and thus he should also share the responsibility of the failed objectives. He added that he would not accept the same conditions if he were proposed the PM seat again.
One of the key points of Mr. Grindeanu’s press conference was his statement that among the things he was criticized for is the fact that his cabinet did not do enough to improve the relationship with the Russian Federation. This particular hot topic in the current geopolitical context remains to be clarified by those responsible.
Many believe that justice was the main reason why Liviu Dragnea and the other PSD leaders insisted on changing the Government. After the scandal related to the changes to the Criminal Code, the Government has been more cautious in its approach and passed the responsibility to the Parliament.
The recent change in Grindeanu’s relationship with PSD leader Liviu Dragnea won him many fans outside his own party. Some of the people who protested for over a month in front of the Government’s headquarters in Bucharest asking for his resignation after the ordinance 13 scandal went to the square on Wednesday evening to show their support for the PM.
Former PSD member Alin Teodorescu told the France-Presse Agency news agency: “Liviu Dragnea only wants one thing – amendments to the anti-corruption laws.”
The Romanian government collapsed Wednesday after the two coalition parties backing it withdrew their support, but Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu refused to resign, throwing the country into another period of political instability months after it was rocked by anti-corruption protests.
According to the Romanian Constitution, the Prime Minister is to remain in office despite the withdrawal of the political support.
As Prime Minister, Mr. Grindeanu can be relieved from office either by his own resignation or by a parliamentary vote of censure against his Cabinet.
Despite the resignation of several of his ministers, the respective resignations entry into force at the moment the Romanian President takes act of the resignations. This means that for now, not only the PM is in full force but so is his entire cabinet. Minister must report for duty and fulfill their duties.
In order for the respective resignations to be in force, the Prime Minister must acknowledge them, have them sent to the Presidential Administration within 15 days, and only after the Romanian President takes act of them, the portfolios become vacant.
Scenario 1 – Interim ministers
After the resignations from the Cabinet are in full power, the PM may appoint interim ministers for the vacant offices. Even if the political structure of the interim cabinet is changed (meaning that the interim ministers are not party members of PSD or ALDE), the vote of the Parliament is not need.
The Interim Cabinet shall be in power until the moment the President nominates a new PM, and the new cabinet is voted favorably by the Parliament.
Scenario 2 – PM appoints full minister
In this case and according to the statements made by the leaders of the PSD-ADLE coalition, the newly appointed Cabinet must meet parliamentary approval. This scenario seems rather difficult to be accomplished by PM Grindeanu as he does not have enough parliamentary support, even if some PSD members are inclined at this moment to hand out their support to the PM and not to the PSD leader Mr. Dragnea.
At this moment, the PSD-ALDE coalition (controlled tightly by Mr. Dragnea) enjoys a comfortable majority in the Parliament: 56% in the Senate and 52% in the Chamber of Deputies. If UDMR is to be invited to join the ruling coalition (rumors say that this is taken into serious consideration by Mr. Dragnea) it will mean an increase by 6-7% in the majority seats.
Scenario 3 – PSD – ALDE parliamentary vote of censure against their own Cabinet
Even if such a measure is considered ridiculous by most of the political analysts and commentators and even if Mr. Dragnea ruled it out, such a measures seems to be the fastest possible way for the PSD-ALDE coalition to get rid of the Grindeanu cabinet and to allow the coalition to nominate a replacement.
In all cases, the reaction from the Romanian President must be taken into serious consideration by all involved parties.
According to the Constitution, the investiture procedure of the Prime Minister includes four stages:
✱ the designation of the candidate for the office of prime
✱ minister;formation of the list of the Government and elaboration of the governing programme;
✱ the debate in Parliament of the programme and list of the Government, the granting of confidence to the Government;
✱ confirmation of the Government
The President of Romania designates a candidate for the office of prime minister, after the consultation of the party which has an absolute majority in Parliament, or, if there is no such majority, of the parties represented in Parliament.
The reason of these consultations derives from the necessity to ensure parliamentary support for the granting of the vote of confidence into the new Government. In other words, the President of Romania cannot act arbitrarily in designating the candidate to the office of prime minister; he is obliged by the Constitution to appoint a candidate with chances to obtain the confidence of Parliament. These chances are all the greater as they spring from the existence of a majority party which acts at the proposals of the President, or by the joining of several political parties to support the candidate proposed by the President of Romania.