Update to original post: Liviu Dragnea appears to have caved in, suggesting (although not confirming) on Thursday evening that he would not be proposing himself as prime minister. We will not know, however, until after a second set of consultations take place next Wednesday or Thursday. Before then, there is much horse trading to be done.
The PSD won Sunday’s general election by some distance. After the redistribution of votes for those parties which did not make the five per cent parliamentary threshold, they appear to have come within just nine seats of being able to govern alone. ALDE will therefore be co-opted to form what will be a comfortable majority. The exact make-up of the new parliament (the actual number of seats each party has) will be formally announced tomorrow or Thursday.
The biggest question which still remains to be resolved is who will be named prime minister.
It looks increasingly likely as though the PSD’s leader Liviu Dragnea will nominate himself for the role when he meets Romanian President Klaus Iohannis tomorrow (All of the parties who made it into parliament have been invited to Cotroceni Palace tomorrow for ‘consultations.’)
However, in his first public statement since Sunday’s vote Iohannis earlier today reiterated what he said before the election campaign began: he does not intend to appoint a convicted criminal (or indeed, anyone who is currently under criminal investigation). When asked what he would do if the law (which forbids a criminal from taking a cabinet post) were to be changed, he said that the law was only ‘a secondary concern’: namely that decency and integrity are not limited to what’s on paper. Even if appointing a criminal as PM were not forbidden by law, what kind of message does it send? Both to the country as a whole and to Romania’s partners and allies abroad?
In short, Iohannis has no intention of naming Dragnea prime minister, and looks prepared to face a possible suspension in order to stick to his sound principles. For the first time since he was elected, it looks as though he has finally realised exactly what a president is actually meant to do.
The ball is now in Dragnea’s court. Will he back down and nominate a member of the PSD not currently under investigation for corruption? (Note: finding one will not be easy as you think). Or will he insist that the prime minister’s job must be his?
If he does, then expect fireworks. Iohannis declared war on Dragnea and the PSD today. We say bring it on.
Finally, can we just say that we find it genuinely shocking that some people seem to think that having a criminal as prime minister is not a problem. In fact, some are going even further and saying that Dragnea has to be PM as ‘that is the will of the people.’
No, ‘the people’ (or 18.7 per cent of them) voted for a PSD government. That does not give them right to impose a criminal upon the rest of us.
PS Dragnea today asked Dacian Ciolos (who remains prime minister until a new government is installed) not to cut the rate of VAT. This despite promising during the campaign to, ahem, cut the rate of VAT. Dragnea also asked Ciolos not to cut fuel duties, despite campaigning on a promise to, ahem, cut fuel duties.
All you fools who believed the PSD’s promises… The phrase is ‘useful idiots.’