Romanian president Klaus Iohannis opted against confrontation with the majority coalition in the country’s parliament, nominating social-democrat MEP Viorica Dancila as Romania’s next prime minister on January 17.
Iohannis made the announcement after holding talks with all parliamentary-represented parties, saying that he had listened to the arguments brought by political parties, but also opinions of regular citizens on social media.
Under Romanian law, the president is not required to nominate the candidate put forth by the largest party in the bicameral legislature – in this case, the social democrats (PSD), who have a majority in parliament alongside their junior coalition partner, ALDE. Had Iohannis nominated another candidate that did not have enough support to win a confirmation vote, it would have started a process that could end in snap parliamentary elections.
“Having weighed all arguments and taking into account the situation in parliament, I have decided to give PSD another chance and nominate their candidate, Viorica Dancila,” Iohannis told a news conference.
“But now PSD must perform. Romanians have high expectations and I have high expectations. PSD made important promises during the [electoral] campaign and after the campaign. It promises wages, pensions, schools, textbooks, hospitals, infrastructure, but very little has been done to this point,” he said.
PSD won the December 2016 parliamentary elections by a large margin, receiving more than double the amount of votes as its main opposition rival, the liberal PNL. Despite having a long list of senior members convicted on corruption charges, PSD was helped by low turnout, but Iohannis declined at that time to nominate the party’s first candidate for prime minister, Sevil Shhaideh.
PSD leader Liviu Dragnea is not eligible to serve as prime minister because he has a suspended sentence from a trial in which he stood accused of rigging referendum results.
PSD’s next choice as prime minister, Sorin Grindeanu, lasted less than six months on the job after losing the party’s support in June 2017, even though he survived the mass protests against a government decree that would have decriminalised low-level government corruption by exonerating embezzlement of up to 45 000 euro.
Grindeanu’s replacement, Mihai Tudose, resigned earlier this week after he too lost the party’s backing.
Dancila, who has been an MEP since 2009, is seen as a close ally of Dragnea and would become Romania’s first female prime minister if, as expected, she wins the confirmation vote in parliament. But she would not be given a free hand in picking members of her cabinet, with PSD leadership nominating the ministers, subject to Dancila’s approval, Dragnea said, as quoted by daily Romania Libera.
(Romania’s houses of parliament. Photo: George M. Groutas/flickr.com)