The leaders of Romania’s main ruling party, PSD, held meetings all day Tuesday to decide the future of the organization following the three major blows it has suffered during the last couple of days: the loss of EU elections, the valid referendum called by president Klaus Iohannis to prevent PSD from further weakening the courts and the three-and-a-half year prison sentence against its leader Liviu Dragnea.
UPDATE: Viorica Dancila’s statements after Executive Committee meeting
- Party voted for Bucharest mayor Gabriela Firea to be reinstated as interim president of PSD Bucharest and as PSD vice president
- Paul Stanescu will be the party’s executive president and Rodica Nassar will be secretary general until the Congress in June to elect a new party leadership structure.
- Proposals for new ministers to fill currently vacant seats: Ana Birchall at Justice; Roxana Manzatu at European Funds; Natalia Intotero – Romanians Abroad; Titus Corlatean – vice prime minister for strategic partnerships.
- Dan Nica will be the leader of the PSD’s delegation in the European Parliament.
- The PM said that she and her colleagues had not discussed a government reshuffle as many had expected, but confirmed that she would analyse the issue and mentioned the Internal Affairs and Foreign Affairs ministries.
- She also expressed her opinion on the idea of an emergency ordinance on the judiciary, which Liviu Dragnea had pressured her to pass: “I felt it would be a vulnerability for us, a vulnerability for the country if we passed an OUG on justice. Perhaps some changes were necessary. I’ve seen cases of abuse, where rights had been infringed upon. I didn’t say whether these OUGs were good or not. Perhaps these measures should be taken by the Parliament. I, as PM, thought that the country was more important and that I cannot risk the activation of Article 7, and I’ve worked hard to improve the country’s image. It wasn’t just Liviu Dragnea insisting for these OUGs, as at one point this was a party-wide opinion. I can’t say that Liviu Dragnea was responsible for everything.”
- PSD leaders will vote in CEx meeting to appoint Viorica Dancila as interim president and Paul Stanescu as the interim executive president of the party, until its members gather in a Congress this summer to elect their new president. Stanescu has been a harsh critic of Liviu Dragnea’s and attempted a takedown of the leader last year together with Bucharest mayor Gabriela Firea and a few other prominent members of the party, but the move was unsuccessful.
- PM Viorica Dancila has announced that the PSD’s proposal for the future leader of the Chamber of Deputies, to replace Liviu Dragnea, will be Marcel Ciolacu.
- Meanwhile, opposition parties PNL, USR-PLUS, and PMP have agreed to support a single candidate for the chamber – Liberal MP Raluca Turcan.
- PM Dancila admitted in a press conference after the BPN meeting that the focus on the judiciary system has had negative effects on the party.
According to local media, PSD leaders have different opinions regarding the next steps to be taken.
Some leaders, like PM Viorica Dancila and local powerful “baron” (the term used in Romania to name the local county leaders) Marian Oprisan said that PSD should continue to govern.
But other leaders suggest that the party should leave power due to poor results in elections.
Analysts also expect PSD leaders to decide the removal from top positions of Dragnea’s main supporters during the last couple of years, who are considered unpopular and a burden for the image of PSD, including Codrin Stefanescu, Lia-Olguta Vasilescu or Mircea Draghici.
The Permanent Bureau of the PSD decided to support the appointment of Carmen Mihalcescu as the interim president of the lower house of Parliament (the Chamber of Deputies), which had previously been led by Liviu Dragnea. Mihalcescu is currently the vice president of the chamber and was one of Dragnea’s critics within the party. The MPs in the Deputies’ Chamber will later vote to appoint a new leader from the candidates who will be proposed by the parliamentary parties.