Romania: warring PSD oust PM Sorin Grindeanu after vote of no confidence

Romanian PM Sorin Grindeanu is the latest casualty in an ongoing domestic crisis that has split the Social Democrats (PSD) and caused national political turmoil.
PSD in-fighting has lead to a standstill in Romanian politics.

The no-confidence vote that signalled the end for Mr. Grindeanu passed on June 21st with 241 votes for and 10 votes against. Only 251 MPs who voted, the opposition parties decided not to take part.

The increasingly weak Leu (the national currency) – which continues to falls ever further behind the Euro and the US Dollar – and the image of the government as unstable and untrustworthy seem to have been Mr. Grindeanu’s undoing.

PSD leader Liviu Dragnea – who is widely seen as the de facto leader of the whole country – stated that he had four possible candidates for Prime Minister soon after the no-confidence vote ended Mr. Grindeanu’s short stint in the role.

Having previously backed Mr. Grindeanu, former PSD Prime Minister Victor Ponta stated that he would not contest the decision to be excluded from PSD, pointing out that the party was ‘headed in the wrong direction’ and that the PSD was ‘selling itself for the interest of a person or a small group with no links to social democracy.’

The eventual nomination by President Klaus Iohannis of Mihai Tudose as Prime Minister came as a surprise.

Rumours were that he and Mr. Dragnea were on bad terms, and Mr. Tudose’s alleged links to the Romanian Secret Service, as well as accusations that he plagiarised his PHD, seemed strong arguments for Iohannis to consider him unsuited for the position.

Romanian President, and leader of the National Liberal Party (PNL), Klaus Iohannis

But in the event, he chose to back Mr. Tudose.

‘Taking into consideration the current crisis, and the urgent need to end it, as it harms the economy and Romania’s international image,’ said the President, ‘I have decided to name Mihai Tudose as Prime Minister-designate.’

Some see this new appointment as President Iohannis trying to put an end to the political instability plaguing the country.

Others believe that if the current PSD government fails because of an unfit Prime Minister, Klaus Iohannis’ personal ratings will rise. And he is keen to secure a second term.

Mr. Tudose sought to assure the public that his main goal was to enforce the governing program and recover the delays the crisis had caused.

But doubts remain about the state of the national economy.

‘Although its economy is growing fast, at about 5.6%,’ said The Guardian, ‘the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission have warned that Romania remained in urgent need of further far-reaching reform.’

The vast majority of the cabinet Ministers – 14 of them – who voted against Mr. Grindeanu will be part of the new cabinet.

The main structural change in the new Government will be the addition of a third Deputy Prime Ministers, instead of the usual two. The new Deputy Prime Minister who has been put forward is Marcel Ciolacu, one of Dragnea’s closest collaborators in the PSD.

He will be overseeing coordination between ministries. Though given his Party’s recent track record, the likelihood of him serving a full term in office is rather lower than normal.