Romania's Parliament on Monday passed the third Social Democratic Party (PSD) -led government in less than a year. The vote comes despite criticism that the new PM, Viorica Dancila, who is the first woman to serve in the job, is just a dummy for PSD leader Liviu Dragnea, who can't stand for PM due to a sentence for electoral fraud. And many of the ministers have also caused stupefaction with their poor use of Romanian grammar and controversial statements during parliamentary hearings.
Dancila, who has been serving as a member of the European Parliament for nine years, is the third PSD prime minister since the party, with their ALDE partners, won the general elections in late 2016. She is seen as an obedient representative of Liviu Dragnea's interests, which had prompted differences between Dragnea and Dancila's last two predecessors, leading to the party withdrawing support for their governments.
Liviu Dragnea is currently struggling to prevent becoming mired in inescapable legal battles, as he has to deal with two other corruption cases, one of which is expecting a sentence soon. The PSD - which includes a large number of politicians investigated for corruption - and their ALDE allies are pushing for a series of changes to the existing legislation, including the Criminal Code and key laws regulating the judiciary, in order to get rid of their troubles.
- The situation prompted a large number of Ambassadors - including the US ambassador and several representatives of EU states - to voice their concern about the situation in Romania. And more recently the heads of the European Commission and the European Parliament came out to show their worries about the changes in Romania, which have prompted comparisons other maverick countries such as Turkey or EU member states Hungary and Poland.
During his speech in Parliament, Liviu Dragnea insisted on the "sovereignty" of Romania. For her part, nominated PM Viorica Dancila said that as long as she serves as a PM she would not introduce any new tax and warned that "no other institution, no other pillar of power would tell the government what it has to do".
The PSD-ALDE allies have been pushing for an increase of responsibilities of the Parliament and the Government, which they control, against the interests of the presidency and the judiciary.
- During hearings in parliamentary commissions today, the nominated ministers faced little to no problems, despite that some of them failed to connect words or use Romanian grammar properly. And they even issued controversial statements - such as the nominated Education minister, who decried that there was too much talk about plagiarism in an education system which he claimed was running well. That is, despite the political and education circles in Romania being shaken for years by scandals of plagiarism involving top officials and university managers.
When the PSD announced its nominations on Friday, it became clear that the party leadership, especially Liviu Dragnea, was trying to secure the support of influential leaders of local party branches from the country, more so than to get professionals into the jobs. Many nominated ministers are seen as cronies of the local PSD leaders, known as "barons" due to their influence on everything that moves in their counties.