Romanian Social Democrats pick new prime minister

Mihai Tudose, 50, former economy minister in the Grindeanu cabinet, in Bucharest, Romania on 26 April 2017 . [STR/ EPA]

Romania’s outgoing economy minister Mihai Tudose was designated as the new prime minister on Monday (26 June), days after the ruling Social Democrats torpedoed their own government following an internal power row.

Tudose, 50, now has 10 days to gain the vote of confidence in his government and his programme.

The Social Democrat party (PSD) filed a no-confidence motion in former prime minister Sorin Grindeanu last Wednesday (21 June), accusing him of “delays” in implementing reforms in the European Union’s second-poorest country.

Romania in turmoil as ruling left drops support for its own premier

Romania’s ruling left-wing party withdrew its support for Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu yesterday (14 June), a move likely to bring down his government, which has only been in power since January.

MPs are likely to vote on Tudose’s nomination on Thursday (29 June) – a formality given that the PSD holds a parliamentary majority with its ALDE ally.

“The current crisis seriously harms Romania, its economy and its image abroad,” centre-right President Klaus Iohannis said on Monday, after holding talks with all the political parties.

“We have to quickly have a new government… that is why I have chosen to designate Mihai Tudose as the future prime minister,” he said.

The PSD unexpectedly withdrew its support for 43-year-old Grindeanu on June 14, barely six months after the party swept back to victory in elections.

Grindeanu however refused to resign and accused powerful PSD boss Liviu Dragnea, 54, of seeking to “concentrate all the power in his hands”.

Dragnea, who is barred from running for office because of a fraud conviction, is widely acknowledged to pull the strings behind the scenes.

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But Grindeanu, once considered Dragnea’s puppet, began to assert his independence in recent months, which reportedly led to his fall from grace.

Dragnea on Monday proposed Tudose as the next minister, saying he “knows the economic mechanisms and knows how to manage them”.

Romanian media on Monday highlighted the fact that Tudose was one of the ministers held responsible for the failure of Grindeanu’s government to implement reforms.

It is the second major crisis to hit the PSD since it rode back into power in December, barely a year after being forced from office over a deadly nightclub blaze blamed on corruption.

In February, Romania’s largest protests since the fall of communism forced the government to drop a bill aimed at watering down anti-corruption laws that critics said would have helped Dragnea himself.

Romanians stage biggest protests since the fall of communism

Hundreds of thousands of people hit the streets across Romania on Wednesday (1 February) to protest the government’s decriminalising of a string of corruption offences, the largest demonstrations since the fall of communism in 1989.