Romania’s PM Viorica Dancila to run for president

Romania's Prime Minister and head of ruling Social Democrat Party (PSD) Viorica Dancila gestures during a news conference at the Parliament Palace in Bucharest, Romania, 23 July 2019. [Bogdan Cristel/EPA/EFE]

Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă will run for president in November, the Social Democratic Party’s (PSD) leadership decided Tuesday (23 July), in a bid to stop incumbent Klaus Iohannis winning a second term.

Her candidacy still has to be validated during a party Congress due to take place on 3 August, but Dăncilă said after the meeting: “It’s not an easy electoral situation for us, but I trust myself and my colleagues.”

Dăncilă, 55, had previously said she was not willing to join the race.

But she came under pressure from her own party, especially after being elected party leader.

While the Social Democratic Party has dominated Romanian politics in the last three decades it has not managed to win the presidency since 2000.

This year, the party was thrown into disarray by a double blow in May.

It was thrashed in European Parliament polls — its share of the vote plunged from 37% in 2014 to 23% — and its leader, Liviu Dragnea, was jailed for corruption.

Viorica Dăncilă, a former member of the European Parliament, became the country’s first ever female prime minister after being picked for the job by Dragnea in January 2018.

Romania’s backbencher MEP Viorica Dăncilă to be Prime Minister

Romania’s ruling Social Democrats on Tuesday (16 January) put forward European Parliament lawmaker Viorica Dăncilă to become prime minister, after power struggles within the party forced out the second premier in seven months.

President Iohannis, who comes from the centre right and is a vocal government critic, has already announced he seek a second term in the 10 November election.

The 60-year-old from the country’s German minority, elected in 2014, still enjoys a high level of confidence as he aims for a second five-year term.

But Dăncilă insisted Tuesday: “I think I have a chance against him.”

The newly formed centre-right alliance USR-PLUS has already named its candidate, Dan Barna, a new face in politics. The alliance was the surprise of the European elections, winning 22 percent of the vote.

Dan Barna: Save Romania Union similar to Macron’s En Marche

Dan Barna, President of Save Romania Union (USR), told EURACTIV in an exclusive interview that his force, which largely represents educated urban voters, could join the European political family of Emmanuel Macron’s La République En Marche! party.

Former prime minister Calin Popescu Tăriceanu, leader of the junior coalition party ALDE, is also running, which might create friction inside the governing coalition.

As blogger Ioan Bucuras wrote on Monday, Dăncilă’s chances look bad, and for the first time since the fall of Communism, it’s highly likely that PSD’s candidate might not make it to the second round.

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