Romania’s leftist Social Democrats name ministers in new government

Earlier this month the government of Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu published the emergency decrees, sparking angry protests across the country. [AGEPRES/Flickr]

Romania’s ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD), winner of an 11 December parliamentary election, named government ministers on Tuesday (3 January), including veteran lawmaker Viorel Stefan for the finance ministry portfolio.

The line-up will be rubber-stamped in a vote on Wednesday in parliament, where the PSD and its junior coalition party ALDE have an overall majority. ALDE has four portfolios, including energy.

“It is a government made of people with experience, with the expertise and work ethic needed to implement our government programme,” PSD leader Liviu Dragnea told reporters.

“It was also very important that each cabinet member be compatible with the prime minister. The prime minister is very interested that government activity be less political and… more focused towards administration,” Dragnea added.

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On 30 December, Romania’s president accepted the PSD’s Sorin Grindeanu, a 43-year-old former deputy mayor of the city of Timisoara, for the post of prime minister.

Would-be finance minister Stefan, 62, has a PhD in economics and has been the head of the parliament’s lower house budget and finance committee for years.

For the justice portfolio, the party named senior leftist MP Florin Iordache who together with other deputies has backed several legislative initiatives to weaken a drive against graft.

Romania, which joined the European Union ten years ago, is seen as one of the bloc’s most corrupt states and along with neighbouring Bulgaria, its justice system is under special monitoring by Brussels.

The PSD returns to power after being ousted just over a year ago when a deadly fire in a Bucharest nightclub brought anger and protests over graft and public administration failings.

Run by an official convicted of electoral fraud, which he denies, the PSD appears to have won the support of many Romanians with promises of increased social spending and economic security.

Dragnea has remained in his post as party chief despite being convicted earlier last year in a 2012 referendum rigging case for which he received a two-year suspended jail sentence.

Romania’s EU partners will likely closely monitor government activity, as the leftists are perceived as being soft on high-level corruption, while their electoral promises point to high budget spending.

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