After two ExCom marathon meetings, Dragnea and Tudose overcome dissensions within PSD. Tudose Cabinet, first reshuffle: New Transport, Development and European Grants ministers


Felix Stroe, Paul Stanescu and Marius Nica nominated as successors to outgoing Cuc, Shhaideh and Plumb * PM Tudose: I haven’t talked with President Iohannis about the three nominations. I don’t have a Plan B


On Friday, the Social Democratic Party’s (PSD) National Executive Committee (NatExCom) voted the new members of Government, Felix Stroe being nominated Transport Minister, Paul Stanescu Deputy Premier and Regional Development Minister, and Marius Nica Minister Delegate for European Grants.

The Social Democratic leaders met on Friday at noon, in a new ExCom meeting. On Thursday evening, after almost seven hours of talks, they no longer put up for vote the three ministers who announced that they are willing to resign: Rovana Plumb, Sevil Shhaideh and Razvan Cuc.

Likewise, talks within the ruling coalition also took place on Friday, in order to clarify the situation of Minister for Liaison with Parliament Viorel Ilie, a minister whose resignation had been demanded by the Premier but who was backed by the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE). ALDE did not give up its endorsement of Viorel Ilie, and reconfirmed its support for him, even though the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) had asked the Senate – unsuccessfully – to lift his immunity in order to start a criminal probe against him.

Mihai Tudose: I haven’t talked with President Iohannis about the three nominations

On Friday, after PSD’s ExCom meeting, Premier Mihai Tudose stated he did not talk with President Klaus Iohannis about the three nominations for the ministerial offices, pointing out he does not have a Plan B in case the Head of State rejects them.

Asked whether he talked with the Head of State about the three nominations, Premier Tudose said: “Not yet. I believe I will forward [the proposals] on Monday, because it’s already Friday afternoon. I’ll announce him that the proposals are coming and we should jointly establish the timetable of the swearing in.”

“There is no Plan B. I didn’t start off from the premise that he rejects the proposals,” the Premier added.


Dragnea on ExCom vote: There was unanimity; only Banicioiu voted against Stanescu


In what concerns him, PSD President Liviu Dragnea stated on Friday that the members of the Executive Committee unanimously voted in favour of the new ministers, except for Nicolae Banicioiu, who voted against the proposal that Paul Stanescu should become Deputy Premier and Regional Development Minister.

“I presented the nominations to the ExCom colleagues. For the office of Deputy Premier and Regional Development and European Grants Minister – Paul Stanescu, Senator. For the Transport Ministry – Mr Felix Stroe, who is president of the PSD Constanta branch and general director of RAJA. For Minister Delegate for European Grants – Marius Nica,” Liviu Dragnea announced.

He pointed out that “there was a unanimous vote, except for Mr Paul Stanescu, Nicolae Banicioiu voting against [him].”


PSD leader boycotts Presidency: I don’t want to go to Cotroceni except after presidential elections. (…) I kept an extended hand until it went numb


PSD’s national leader stated on Friday that he refuses to attend the swearing in of the new ministers and will enter the Cotroceni Palace only after the presidential elections, claiming he is no longer confident that the Head of State is not getting politically involved.

“I don’t want to go to Cotroceni except after the presidential elections, because I no longer believe in the President’s political non-involvement. It’s not a whim. If he wants to talk about PSD he should become party member. Otherwise, I’m asking him to no longer talk about PSD,” was the PSD President’s message for the Head of State.

The PSD leader had the same request for Presidential Spokeswoman Madalina Dobrovolschi.

“The request goes for the spokesperson too. She shouldn’t hold press conferences at Cotroceni to say what PSD should do. If she wants to state her opinion she should sign the adhesion and join the party,” Dragnea added.

In what concerns his relationship with Klaus Ioahnnis and the way this situation was reached, Dragnea pointed out: “I kept an extended hand until it went numb. I don’t believe PSD or I did something against President Iohannis, institutionally speaking. I no longer want to go to the Cotroceni Palace.”


Tudose on Viorel Ilie – whose resignation he had demanded – remaining Gov’t member: It’s ALDE’s opinion; he doesn’t work with Brussels


On Friday, Premier Mihai Tudose touched on the fact that Minister Viorel Ilie remains a member of Government against the backdrop in which two other ministers with legal problems resigned, pointing out that that is the opinion of ALDE and that Viorel Ilie does not work with Brussels.

Asked whether the fact that he is keeping a minister who has problems with the DNA (Viorel Ilie – editor’s note) shows lack of consistency, considering that Sevil Shhaideh and Rovana Plumb have resigned, Tudose answered: “Regarding the two colleagues, I talked not about incompetence and not about the fact that they are guilty, but about the perception that Brussels may have… I understood, Mr Ilie Viorel does not work with Brussels.”

Likewise, he added that ALDE leaders decided to keep Viorel Ilie in Government.

“We have a partnership. We did what we had to do in our area. It’s their opinion,” Mihai Tudose added.


Who are the new nominated ministers


Felix Stroe, the new Transport Minister, was born on 25 December 1955, in Valea Teancului, Buzau County. He studied at the ‘Mircea cel Batran’ Naval Academy in Constanta, then at the Academy of High Military Studies in Bucharest and the Faculty of Command. From 1978 to 1991, he was an active Romanian Navy officer. From 2000 to 2003, he was Deputy Mayor of Constanta.

Marius Nica will be the new European Grants minister. He is 36 years old and was European Grants Minister in the Ponta Government. He grew up in the shadow of PSD Vice President Rovana Plumb. He graduated from the National Intelligence Academy in 2003, with a specialisation in journalism, communication and behavioural psycho-sociology. He then worked as officer at the MoD, until 2008, where he vetted from the standpoint of the management of security risks those seeking employment within the MoD. He owned his own company – Holding Group Trading International SRL.

Senator Paul Stanescu is Sevil Shhaideh’s successor as Deputy Premier and Regional Development Minister. Stanescu (60) graduated from Craiova’s Faculty of Agronomy in 1982 and worked in the agricultural sector until 2008. In 2008, he was elected Olt County Council Chairman, being re-elected in 2012. Since 2010, he has been leader of the PSD Olt party branch, and in 2013 he was elected PSD Vice President, being thought to be one of the party’s most influential local leaders. In 2016, he was elected to the Romanian Senate, where he holds the office of quaestor.


After days of tension, Dragnea and Tudose make peace with one another, issue signal of unity


Social Democratic Party (PSD) leader Liviu Dragnea and Premier Mihai Tudose shook hands before journalists on Friday, at the end of a joint press opportunity on the steps of the PSD headquarters, and joked on account of Tudose’s height, who made a semi-genuflection while Dragnea tiptoed.

Dragnea and Tudose took part in a joint press opportunity on the steps of PSD’s central headquarters, immediately after the National Executive Committee meeting which voted the successors to the three outgoing Regional Development, Transport and European Grants ministers.

The press opportunity lasted over 20 minutes and featured statements dotted with appeasing messages from both, the existence of any conflict being denied, against the backdrop in which Tudose had publicly stated at the start of the week that the relationship between them is not experiencing the happiest moment.

At the end of the statements, Tudose wanted to leave but Dragnea stopped him, telling him they should shake hands once again in front of the cameras and journalists.

Tudose came back, happily stating in English – “shake hand.” The two shook hands ostentatiously, in a protocol-like style, for a few dozen seconds, after which Tudose left for his car while Dragnea entered the party headquarters.

During the press opportunity, Dragnea and Tudose joked about the Premier’s height.

Asked whether he has anything to reproach Tudose with, Dragnea said: “Yes, he is taller than me and you can no longer see me because of the microphones.”

“I can’t fully agree with him because he is not taller than me and it remains as I said: I’m still the taller one. Mr Dragnea is the president of the party and the Government is a political Government,” Tudose replied, at which point he was interrupted by a journalist. “Let him finish because he’s speaking well,” Dragnea laughingly intervened, while tiptoeing.

“In the meantime, Mr Dragnea has grown a bit, as you can see,” Tudose laughingly said, while making a semi-genuflection to match Dragnea’s height.


Dragnea on tensions with Premier: We’ve both discovered many things


On Friday, PSD leader Liviu Dragnea denied the existence of tensions between him and Premier Mihai Tudose, pointing out they “got over it,” while Tudose stated that the tensions had accumulated because of lack of dialogue.

Asked about the existence of tensions between him and the Premier, Dragnea answered: “Tensions between Mihai Tudose and me, no. There were discussions that we both had, we discovered many things – both of us – and we had the capacity to get over it because the most important thing is what we decided last evening (Friday’s ExCom meeting – editor’s note), after our two colleagues left the Government, [that] we shall not give in to any attack, regardless of the institution it comes from, and this is important,” Dragnea said.

“Mihai must lead the Government. He is a good Premier, I want to help him and I want us to help him and we should work together for the Government to take the entire platform to completion,” Dragnea added, denying that there are two centre of power within the PSD, despite admitting that PSD has overcome “an extremely complicated” situation.

In his turn, Premier Mihai Tudose pointed out that tensions had accumulated also because of the lack of dialogue.

“In recent days it was ascertained that dialogue is the way, and especially sincerity both toward others or versus others who keep trying to pour gas on the fire,” Tudose said.