Following a meeting of the Social Democratic Party’s Executive Committee (CEx), Romanian PM Viorica Dancila has obtained the party leadership’s approval to nominate three new cabinet members to lead ministries which have so far had interim ministers as a result of a recent government reshuffle: Justice, Education, and Internal Affairs.
Viorica Dancila will send her proposals to president Klaus Iohannis for approval. Iohannis has rejected several cabinet proposals from PM Viorica Dancila in the past, but has not yet expressed an opinion on Friday’s proposals. PM Dancila said in a press conference after the CEx meeting that she had not spoken to the president about her nominations, but that she had no reasons to expect any of her proposals would be rejected.
For Justice, Dancila will nominate Dana Girbovan, currently a judge at the Cluj-Napoca Court of Appeals, who has been a supporter of some of the PSD’s controversial proposals for changes in the justice system and has criticised the report written by the Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) on the Romanian justice system, saying that it was “subjective”, “biased”, and “superficial”.
According to insiders cited by G4Media, interim Justice minister Ana Birchall may have been removed from her role due to pressures from PSD members who were known to be close allies of former party president Liviu Dragnea, convicted to 3.5 years in prison for corruption in May, who had pushed for the controversial changes in the justice system during his tenure with the backing of many of his party colleagues, some of whom have also had corruption-related encounters with the judiciary. The attempted legislative changes were widely seen as designed to help these politicians get out of their legal troubles and they triggered massive street protests across the country.
The sources claim that Birchall angered the above-mentioned wing of the PSD due to her support for new laws that would change conditions for conditional releases from prison and her acknowledgement of the legitimacy of the GRECO report. She was also allegedly in favour of dismantling the Special Section for the Investigation of Magistrates, a new body that the PSD majority established to scrutinize the actions of prosecutors and judges, despite the fact that the idea had received negative feedback from both national and international specialised institutions. In fact, GRECO described the Special Section as “an anomaly of the judiciary system”.
PSD secretary general Mihai Fifor, who has been the interim Internal Affairs minister since former minister Nicolae Moga submitted his resignation within a week of his appointment, will become a permanent minister at Internal Affairs. Fifor is known to be a close ally of PM Dancila and has previously held the role of Defense minister.
The Internal Affairs Ministry has recently been the target of criticism due to law enforcement’s bad management of a case involving the kidnapping and murder of two teenagers in Caracal, Olt county. The current interim Justice minister, Ana Birchall, will take over Fifor’s role in the cabinet – vice PM for strategic partnerships.
The proposal made by the PM for the Education Ministry is Serban Valeca, the president of PSD Arges and vice president of the Senate and a former two-time Research minister, in the Grindeanu and Nastase governments. Valeca is a four-term PSD MP and holds a PhD in Engineering Science from the Polytechnic University of Bucharest. He is specialised in nuclear engineering and was the Governor of Romania at the International Nuclear Energy Agency, according to his CV published on the Senate website.