As we suspected he might, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis today rejected the PSD’s proposal for prime minister, Sevil Shhaideh. He didn’t give any specific reasons: he didn’t have to. He simply said that having weighed the ‘pros and cons’ of appointing Shhaideh PM, he had decided that the PSD should nominate somebody else.
With the exception of the short honeymoon period that followed his election, it’s unlikely that the president’s stock has ever been higher. After two years of stuttering (at best) performance Iohannis has over the past few weeks started to behave like a president.
Later in the afternoon, PSD leader Liviu Dragnea said that he was ‘stupified’ at Iohannis’s refusal to accept Shhaideh’s nomination: ‘This man [Iohannis] wants to create a political crisis. He thinks he is the leader of the opposition.’ Speaking alongside ALDE chief Calin Popescu Tariceanu he declared that the PSD and ALDE would carefully analyse the situation over the next day or two before deciding what to do: ‘If we need to, we will not rule out suspending the president.’
And yet talk of suspending Iohannis is premature. For a start, it is doubtful that the PSD and ALDE would have the numbers in parliament to do so (they need at least two-thirds of MPs and senators to vote in favour of a suspension).
As it stands tonight, Dragnea looks to have played a high stakes game and lost. He hugely overestimated the power that 45 per cent of the vote (on a 39 per cent turnout) gives him, and severely underestimated Iohannis’s phlegmatic correctitude. He also appears to have forgotten that the law is not yet on his side.
Unless he has an ace up his sleeve, he’s screwed.
PS Who is running the country all the while? Dacian Ciolos nominally remains Romanian prime minister, although both his hands and feet are very tightly tied.