After a meeting organized in a hurry by the Executive Committee of PSD, at the request of the some of the most preeminent members of the party as Gabriela Firea, Mayor of Bucharest, the Social Democrats decided to withdraw the political support for PM Mihai Tudose. As a consequence, PM Mihai Tudose decided to leave office only after seven months from the investiture. This is the second government that PSD decided to change in just a year after winning the elections from December 2016. Former PM Sorin Grindeanu was ousted by the coalition PSD-ALDE in June 2017 after a negative vote in the Parliament.
This outcome is the consequence of the conflict between Mihai Tudose and president of the party, Liviu Drganea which intensified in the last months. Although, in October 2017 PM Mihai Tudose managed to impose a reshuffle of three ministers who were known to be close collaborators of Liviu Dragnea, he was not able to capitalize the support of some of the local leaders of PSD and was obliged to step back from governance. As a consequence, a strong opposition to Liviu Dragnea within the party was not able to form yet, but at the same time Liviu Dragnea is starting to face challenges in upholding the control.
Recent months have seen street protests against controversial reforms of the justice system, and there have also been conflicts between politicians and anti-corruption prosecutors. In this context, PM Mihai Tudose decided to move away back from the relationship with Liviu Dragnea and to take control of the act of governance.
For the moment, Mihai Fifor, Minister of Defense, was decided by the President Klaus Iohannis to hold the interim until an appointment will be made, although the first option of PSD was Paul Stanescu.
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.
What are the scenarios?
1. PSD-ALDE still holds a clear majority in the Parliament and thus will make a proposal of candidate to PM office after executive meeting of the party from today
The comfortable majority that PSD-ALDE enjoys in the Parliament offers them the possibility to come with a new proposal of PM. Still, the tense situation from the party will impact also the nomination process, who will most probably be a compromise between the leaders of the party. At the same time, Liviu Dragnea will try to regain control over the Government by proposing one of his close collaborators, such as Mihai Fifor, the Minister of Defense. Although, Liviu Dragnea won the battle with Mihai Tudose, he is no longer enjoying enough leverage to rule alone the party, given the fact that some of the main local leaders such as Niculae Badalau and Marcel Ciolacu made a step back from supporting the PSD leader in his actions. Also, leaders such as Gabriela Firea already are challenging the position of Liviu Dragnea for their future plans of taking over the party leadership. Another important factor is the position of ALDE, who will increase demands for supporting the new PM.
2. President Klaus Iohannis holds the constitutional key and might decide to play
After the governmental crisis with former PM Sorin Grindeanu from June last year, Klaus Iohannis stated that in case a new change of the Government will occur, he will be rather skeptical regarding the PSD-ALDE`s abilities to govern. In this sense, he issued the possibility not to appoint a PM from the majority. Following this scenario, PSD-ALDE will see the position of the President as an act of war and thus will go towards his suspension in the Parliament. This possibility was stated by Lia Olguta Vasilescu yesterday, who warned the President that if he refuses to nominate a PM from PSD, then the coalition will act against his decision by a suspension. Still, as it happened already in the past, this situation will lead to new street protests for supporting the President. Given the fact that in 2019 Romania will hold presidential elections, a decision to suspend the president will reaffirm his position and make it difficult for PSD-ALDE to have a strong candidate in the electoral race.
Still, the refusal of the President to appoint a PM from PSD is risky in the sense in which the opposition parties are weak and cannot support the formation of a new Government in the Parliament. While the appointment of an interim PM will not resolve the political instability, given the limited attributions this person will have while in office.
3. Klaus Iohannis will nominate a PM from PSD
The President might decide to designate a PSD candidate for the office of PM, after the consultations with the main parties from the Parliament, especially PSD and ALDE. In this case, the solution of the president might be one of compromise in order to assure political stability and to force PSD to assume responsibility for the act of governance, given the fact that any other Government will have to sacrifice for solving the fiscal problems made by the last Government of PSD-ALDE. In the prospect of 2019 presidential elections, the scenario of a withdrawal of PSD-ALDE from governance will offer them enough time to reposition and gain more electorate support. Thus, most probably the President will try to avoid this situation and grow his future political platform for 2019 elections.