By Ana Maria Touma.
Romania’s ruling Social Democrat Party, the PSD, is due to name a new Prime Minister by Monday after it voted the former Prime Minister out of office on Wednesday.
However, the party risks facing problems in securing a majority in parliament as questions arose over the loyalty of 14 MPs, including former Prime Minister Victor Ponta, and several members of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats, ALDE, who voted against the impeachment motion.
President Klaus Iohannis, who is representing Romania at the European Council until Friday, called for consultations with all parliamentary factions on Monday.
Social Democrat leader Liviu Dragnea said on Wednesday, after the vote in parliament, that he had four proposals for the PM’s post, but would choose one name following talks with allies in parliament and a Social Democrat leadership meeting in the weekend.
He excluded the possibility of a technocratic Prime Minister, saying that he or she “should be an honest, responsible person, not an adventurer, and should have the ability to implement the government program”.
“Romania is back to normal,” he maintained. The impeachment motion had been “a political move by the PSD and ALDE and we were aware of the risks. But we could not risk an ambitious government program being questioned,” he added.
Iohannis, who left Berlin for Brussels on Wednesday, said that he expected a valid proposal for the Prime Minister’s post to come from the Social Democrats. “I did not change my position on the integrity of the Prime Minister,” he said in Berlin.
In January, Iohannis warned that he would never appoint a Prime Minister who had been sentenced or investigated for graft.
The Prime Minister is usually the head of the party with the majority in parliament, but Dragnea has a two-year suspended jail sentence for trying to rig a referendum in 2012.
His own nomination would not have been approved by Iohannis and he eventually nominated Sorin Grindeanu, after the President rejected Dragnea’s first choice, former Development Minister Sevil Shhaideh.
Besides nominating a new Prime Minister and forming a new government, the PSD-ALDE coalition risks losing its majority in parliament and being forced to former another alliance with the main ethnic Hungarian party, the UDMR.
Only 241 MPs supported the impeachment motion, which would not have passed if several MPs representing minorities had not voted for it.
An alliance with the UDMR might be problematic, however, after the PSD on Tuesday blocked an emergency procedure to adopt three bills sought by the Hungarian minority.
The bill were withdrawn under pressure from PSD and opposition MPs who were worried about a bill requesting March 15 to be declared a national holiday – the date marks the anniversary of the 1848 Revolution in Budapest, which led to the annexation of Transylvania by Hungary in May 1848.
Liberal opposition leader Leonard Orban said he saw an opportunity in the situation after Wednesday’s vote in parliament, and said his party was ready to negotiate an alliance and form a new majority. The UDMR said it was open to negotiations with all sides.
Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu and his government meanwhile remain in office until a new Prime Minister is appointed.
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