PSD leaders hold informal meeting to decide Gov’t reshuffle*Dragnea: It’s not a crisis, I’ve convened the Executive Committee for Thursday * Mihai Tudose meets President Klaus Iohannis at Cotroceni
On Tuesday, at noon, Social Democrat leaders met in an informal meeting at the party’s headquarters on Kiseleff Boulevard, to discuss the tensions that have appeared between Liviu Dragnea and Premier Mihai Tudose and to decide what ministers will be dismissed. Before the PSD meeting, Premier Mihai Tudose met President Klaus Iohannis. The information was confirmed later in the day by Presidential Spokeswoman Madalina Dobrovolschi who stated that the meeting between PM Mihai Tudose and President Klaus Iohannis focused on the new political crisis. PSD President Liviu Dragnea stated on Tuesday, when arriving at the party headquarters, that one cannot talk about a crisis and that he has convened the party’s National Executive Committee for Thursday at 5 p.m., because decisions are taken within that body.
Asked for his opinion on the fact that Premier Mihai Tudose met President Klaus Iohannis at the Cotroceni Palace after he had announced, the evening before, the dismissal of some ministers, Dragnea said he finds it a normal meeting.
Dragnea reiterated that decisions are taken within the party’s leadership bodies and within the ruling coalition.
Likewise, the PSD leader denied the allegation that he is behind the opinion poll that sociologist Marius Pieleanu recently published, an opinion poll that caused commotion within the party by showing a dramatic drop in approval ratings for the Tudose Government.
At the same time, the PSD President also stated, before the party’s informal meeting, that Premier Mihai Tudose can propose any reshuffling idea and the party is obligated to analyse it.
“Members of Government being concerned, I believe the correct procedure is the following: the Premier has all the necessary levers to assess each minister and just as the procedure to appoint each minister went, so will the reverse procedure go,” Liviu Dragnea said.
PSD leader Dragnea: On my part, my relationship with PM Tudose didn’t change
Social Democratic Party leader stated before the meeting that, on his part, his relationship with Prime Minister Mihai Tudose has never changed since he nominated the latter as Head of Government.
“On my part, we are as we were in the beginning, when I nominated him, I still endorse him,” said Dragnea, upon arriving at the PSD headquarters.
Asked whether the Social Democratic Party is facing a crisis these days, he replied: “No. As far as I know, no. I spoke with almost all my colleagues.”
The Social Democratic leader voiced hope that there will be no governmental crisis any time soon. “I hope we will not come to that, from time to time it’s normal to do a reshuffle. If there are enough arguments for it, no one from the party will oppose it,” he said.
Dragnea also stated that PSD members discuss like politicians and not like “men,” referring thus to a statement made by PM Mihai Tudose. “We are men, we discuss like men all the time. I cannot discuss like a woman for instance,” said the Social Democratic leader.
Moreover, when asked if in the future he may have to choose between his resignation or the PM’s, Dragnea said: “Here we go again. I’m fed up with all of this. I can also leave the country, in the end, if it’s me who is the cause of all problems.”
According to him, topics such as the replacement of Deputy PM Sevil Shhaideh and Minister Rovana Plumb are meant to be discussed at the party headquarters and not on the streets.
Liviu Dragnea also believes that the PM will not send to Cotroceni his proposals to replace some of the ministers before the National Executive Committee of the Party.
Asked whether he was behind the opinion poll showing a drop in the Government’s approval ratings, the social democratic leader said: “Definitely not. I never did such a thing. I don’t do that. In the end, it’s just a poll, I have never asked anybody to do this poll, not to mention to use it for a certain purpose.”
Dragnea also said that he does not believe PSD is about to face a new “Grindeanu” scenario.
Dobrovolschi: It’s not a weekly meeting, it comes in the given context; an institutional discussion was called for
“A meeting between the President and the Premier is normal in the context of such tensions you are seeing in the public space. We’re talking about a meeting that took place today,” the Head of State’s Spokeswoman said.
Asked whether the President has a message regarding the developments within the ruling coalition, regarding the risk of a new crisis, she said: “Yes, PSD should mind its governance, because Romanians voted for results, for efficient governance, not for party scandals.”
Asked about the President’s opinion on a possible Government reshuffle, she answered: “I believe you’ve already found out the President’s opinion. When there are persons holding important offices, these persons should have stepped down or should have been withdrawn by the party. Carrying out such assessments and deciding if a reshuffle is needed is the Premier’s prerogative.”
She pointed out that “it’s not a weekly meeting, it comes in the given context, a normal and necessary institutional discussion was called for in such a context.”
PM Tudose announces Gov’t mini-reshuffle, relevant decisions this week, admits he mulled tendering his resignation. Relationship with PSD head Dragnea is in “unhappy moment”
On Monday evening, Premier Mihai Tudose announced that a Government reshuffle will take place this week, pointing out that the three ministers that have legal problems of a criminal nature will be targeted by it, but also at least two other members of the Cabinet. He said there will be “some harsh but necessary decisions.”
The three ministers with criminal problems are Sevil Shhaideh, Deputy Premier and Development Minister, whom the DNA accuses of abuse of office in the Belina dossier. In the same dossier, the DNA has asked that the immunity of European Grants Minister Rovana Plumb be lifted. Another minister whose immunity the DNA wants lifted is Viorel Ilie, Minister for the Relation with Parliament, for allegedly instigating the use of classified information or permitting unauthorised persons to access such information.
Other ministers rumoured for reshuffling are Transport Minister Razvan Cuc and Business Environment Minister Ilan Laufer. Likewise, sources quoted by Hotnews claim Deputy Premier Marcel Ciolacu could be nominated as Sevil Shhaideh’s replacement.
Asked about an opinion poll which shows PSD continues to do well in approval ratings, however the Government fares poorly, Premier Tudose said that, presuming the opinion poll is true, either himself or problems within the Government are to blame, such as the problem concerning ministers with legal problems of a criminal nature.
“No one reaches retirement age holding this position and the first day of being a Prime Minister is the first day of the last days [as Prime Minister], at one point one must leave. You have mentioned that [approval ratings] poll. I am not a sociologist, but, also considering what I discussed with others, unless you were born yesterday, there’s no way to drop from 40 to 20 [percent] in just two weeks. (…) Even more, this is a small world, one will find out who ordered it, how he ordered it, but all right, let’s move on. However, also assuming that – and here is where the resignation issue has stemmed from -, assuming that it is true (…), we’ll see. I am there to govern for the Romanians. If the Romanians no longer believe in what we are doing, we’ll all go home,” Tudose told Antena 3 private television broadcaster.
According to the PM, one cannot govern “by force.”
“We cannot govern by force, against what the Romanian people want. This is where my discontent comes from and then, if things are like this, an assessment is needed to see, it is either my fault, through what I do or don’t do, or there are some things in the government justifying these figures – the presence of some ministers with criminal offence issues, the lack of activity of certain ministers or the lack of results – and this week I will be making some tough but necessary decisions,” Tudose said.
Asked if this poll that was made public could be “a ploy”, Tudose replied: “Quite correct. (…) Let us say that it is true, I start from the premise that it is true. If so, I repeat, there are two problems – either I have a problem and I must go home, or there are some problems in the government and we need to fix them.”
At the same time, asked if these problems could be related to the presence in Government of some ministers investigated for criminal offenses, Tudose replied: “Yes. (…) If we are to make a reset in respect to image and some effects of the governance, I will tell you that there are still at least two ministers, whom I will ask to leave the Cabinet. (…) A mini-reshuffle. (…) There are three [ministers] with problems, who, indeed, are creating problems on a public perception level and some of the situations on the European Commission level as well.”
The PM also said he will take responsibility for the proposed Government reshuffles and will submit them to the vote of the ruling coalition.
“I will announce it this week, I will firstly inform the party, of course, not on TV. (…) I will take responsibility for the proposals and I will submit them to the coalition voting,” Tudose also showed.
He pointed out that he has already found the solutions regarding the replacements, however he has not made a final decision. “I don’t have a final decision. I have found some good solutions, if in the meanwhile something better comes up, it’s all right,” the PM also said.
Tudose admits he mulled tendering his resignation
Prime Minister Mihai Tudose on Monday also said that he informed a close group of friends that he is considering tendering his resignation.
Asked, in a talk-show on Antena 3 private television broadcaster, if he considers handing his resignation, the Prime Minister said: “Yes, I have said it. I have said it very clearly, I have told a close circle of three, maximum four persons. (…) If things look so bad and the government has collapsed [in approval ratings], let’s go home, as it means we’re not doing our job right.”
According to PSD sources, several Social Democrat leaders – namely PSD Executive President Niculae Badalau, Deputy Premier Marcel Ciolacu, PSD Olt President Paul Stanescu and PSD Secretary General Marian Neacsu – met Premier Tudose at the Government on Monday, to ask him not to resign.
PM not ruling out repeat of Grindeanu Gov’t situation, difference is many urge him to stay
PM told Antena 3 that the Government is currently in a situation somewhat similar to that of the Grindeanu line-up, but that, unlike the case of his predecessor, many fellow Social Democrats have asked him not to leave the Government helm.
“In the afternoon and in the evening my office was brimming with colleagues, party branch presidents who came to ask me not to leave. The situation may be a bit similar to that 100 days ago, the first 100 days in office of the Grindeanu government, yet it’s somewhat the opposite because whereas many were asking him to leave, in my case they beseech me not to,” said Tudose when asked in an interview for Realitatea TV private broadcaster if he does not fear his PSD colleagues may react like they did in Sorin Grindeanu’s case.
It also emerged from the discussion that the Premier’s relation with Social Democratic Party (PSD) President Liviu Dragnea is on the rocks, as Tudose said: “Some things have skidded off. We are trying to find a solution tomorrow. If we fail to find the solution, we’ll have to take some measures.”
The Head of Government reiterated that he will ask five Cabinet members to leave. When the host suggested ministers Sevil Shhaideh, Rovana Plumb and Viorel Ilie are in the crosshairs, the PM replied: “Your understanding is correct. (…) There are two other colleagues I will ask to leave the Government because of underperformance.”
He mentioned he also has some reasons of dissatisfaction over the party’s involvement in certain Government decisions, that these issues would be discussed on Tuesday and that if the conclusion emerges that “things can work differently, they will; if not, it’s obvious someone has to go home.”
Asked if he is ready to quit as Head of Government if the PSD does not accept the reshuffle involving the five ministers, Tudose replied: “I cannot take responsibility for carrying on with something that I’m saying it does not work.”
Tudose: Relationship with PSD head Dragnea in ‘unhappy moment’
Asked in a talk-show on Antena 3 private broadcaster if there is a wedge between himself and the PSD leader, the Head of Government replied: “I’d say we are in a not so happy moment in the relationship,” but did not elaborate on the reasons why things turned sour so shortly after his appointment at the helm of the Government.
While Tudose said he has nothing to blame himself for, he added the outcome hinges on the discussions to be held on Tuesday when he expects a blunt talk on all issues, that he is intent on streamlining the Government’s activity and that he would steer clear of throwing the country in chaos now, as the rulers have responsibilities to fulfil and projects underway. Yet on the other hand – he added – no one clings to the office and adamantly stays glued to the chair as “governing is for the people, not against them.”
Reactions after PSD meeting
Premier Tudose: We’ve established reshuffling area, persons to reshuffle, final decision to be taken on Thursday within PSD’s Executive Committee
Premier Mihai Tudose announced on Tuesday, at the end of the PSD meeting, that the area and persons to be targeted by the Government reshuffling have been established and the final decision will be taken at PSD’s Executive Committee meeting on Thursday.
“It was a long discussion, it was decided that the final decision should be taken during PSD’s Executive Committee meeting on Thursday,” Tudose said.
He said that the decisions will focus on two directions – clarifying the rapport between the Government and PSD, and the reshuffle.
“It was decided that the final decision should be taken within the ExCom – I’ve understood we’ll convene it on Thursday – on the following directions: the rapports between the Government and the party, starting off from the premise that the Government is political but that things must be clarified at the level of certain party structures’ involvement in the governmental activity,” Tudose stated.
He added that “areas and persons” to be targeted by the reshuffle have been established.
“We’ve jointly established the reshuffle area, the persons to reshuffle. We won’t make you happy now by giving you the names, the nominations and the portfolios, but after the ExCom,” the Premier said.
In what concerns his meeting with President Iohannis, which preceded the PSD meeting, Tudose said he went to ask the President whether he can sign the paperwork for the replacement of some ministers this week. “The discussion with President Klaus Iohannis was to ask him whether he is willing to sign the paperwork this week, and on a report about what took place in Varna,” Tudose added.
Dragnea: It was a good discussion, the decisions will be taken within Executive Committee
PSD President Liviu Dragnea stated on Tuesday, at the end of the informal meeting that took place at the party headquarters, meeting in which Prime Minister Mihai Tudose took part, that in his opinion it was a good discussion that will resume on Thursday, within the Executive Committee, where the decisions concerning the Government reshuffle will also be taken.
“We had, in my view, a good and necessary meeting, a fairly clarifying discussion. The Prime Minister presented several measures that must be taken in order for there not to have problems in what concerns the implementation of the governing platform. Of course, this was a non-statutory discussion, we will discuss these things within the National Executive Committee, and I believe the arguments presented today in this informal discussion… if presented within the ExCom too, there will be not problems,” Liviu Dragnea said.
The PSD leader said that next year’s draft budget, which will include “higher provisions” in areas of interest, was also discussed.
“Likewise, we also discussed the draft budget and the other financial measures; in my opinion, the good news is that next year’s budget, which includes all measures from the platform, is a good, balanced budget featuring higher provisions in areas that interest us,” Liviu Dragnea added.
Badalau: There will be a reshuffle. Tudose hasn’t announced his resignation
PSD First Vice President Niculae Badalau stated on Tuesday, after the meeting of PSD leaders, that there will be a reshuffle, because Premier Mihai Tudose is angry that things are not working properly in some ministries. He denied the allegations that Premier Mihai Tudose, whom he called one of Romania’s best Premiers, announced his resignation from the party.
Asked whether the Premier’s resignation was raised as an issue, Badalau said: “No, how could it be? The Premier is a mature, wise man who knows very well what governing a country means and he’s not toying with this. (…) He’s an extremely serious man and a very good Premier; I had doubts at first, but now I’m telling you he is one of the best Premiers that Romania has had, he is a determined man who will develop Romania.”
He pointed out there will be a reshuffle and it is normal for the Premier to come up “with refreshment solutions” where he believes “ministers are not moving well.”
“There will be a reshuffle as long as there is lagging behind and it’s because of the ministers,” the PSD leader said, pointing out that the Premier will present his reasons within the Executive Committee, which will take the decision, nominating other ministers.
He claimed that Premier Mihai Tudose is angry that some things are not working within the Government.
ALDE threatens to leave ruling coalition. Vosganian: Mihai Tudose himself is the one who wants the breaking of the coalition
Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) leader Varujan Vosganian stated on Tuesday that ALDE has recently reconfirmed its support for Minister Viorel Ilie and that his dismissal can take place only after a discussion within the ruling coalition. Vosganian added that he has “the feeling that Premier Mihai Tudose himself is the one who wants the breaking of the coalition,” and warned that dismissing Viorel Ilie would lead to the breaking of the coalition.
“In what concerns Minister for the Relation with Parliament Viorel Ilie, two weeks ago ALDE confirmed its confidence in our minister. Nothing has happened in relation to that vote. We do not intend to reconsider it. This vote of ours and the confidence we offered to the minister was also confirmed by the vote that the Senate cast in its plenary meeting,” ALDE Senator Varujan Vosganian stated.
In what concerns the reshuffle hypothesis, Vosganian explained that “the ruling coalition’s internal procedures clearly state that any reshuffle is to be carried out following proposals that the Premier presents before the ruling coalition.” “With no such proposal made so far, for us this potential reshuffle remains only a hypothesis that the Prime Minister has presented,” the ALDE Senator added.
Vosganian emphasised that if Premier Mihai Tudose nevertheless does dismiss Minister Viorel Ilie, then the Head of Government is the one who wants the breaking of the coalition.
“The Prime Minister and the Government are in this position conferred by the ruling coalition, and it’s natural for any potential reshuffle to take place following the Prime Minister’s presentation, before the coalition, of the reasons that prompt him to make a selection in what concerns the ministers. There have been no such talks between ALDE and PSD and a top-level meeting will take place after Calin Popescu Tariceanu returns from his visit to Prague. If, in what concerns ALDE and PSD, such a discussion hasn’t taken place, I have the feeling – based on what has happened – that Premier Mihai Tudose himself is the one who wants the breaking of the coalition,” Varujan Vosganian added.
Catalin Ivan: Dragnea is a black widow. He falls in love with each PM, then kills him
PSD MEP Catalin Ivan claims that Liviu Dragnea is behaving like “a black widow” who “falls in love with each Premier, then kills him.” He believes that Premier Mihai Tudose is responsible with reshuffling the ministers and that replacing those who have legal problems of a criminal nature is natural.
On Tuesday, Catalin Ivan stated for News.ro that PSD President Liviu Dragnea should understand he must allow the Premier to lead his team, without permanently intervening in the act of governance.
“Dragnea is a black widow. He falls in love with each Premier, then kills him. PSD is in a gridlock. At first, Dragnea presents each of them to the party as being the best for the office of Premier, then he wants to get rid of them,” Catalin Ivan stated.
The MEP added that the attempt to “dastardly” remove Premier Tudose from office is embarrassing, coming three months after the swearing-in of the second Government.
“I’ve understood that Liviu Dragnea is not interested in the future of the party, nor in that of the country, but only in being out of prison for a few extra days, and in Tel Drum winning some extra contracts. But it’s not necessary to make a fool of ourselves in Europe,” Ivan pointed out.
He believes that Premier Mihai Tudose is responsible with reshuffling ministers and replacing those with legal problems of a criminal nature is natural.
“How could you keep them in Government, how could you send them to talks in Brussels? Maybe they are innocent, but, until they sort out their problems, they must be withdrawn,” Catalin Ivan stated.
The PSD MEP claims that, normally, important decisions should be taken by PSD’s National Executive Committee, however the current NatExCom is not working properly because many party branch presidents are only acting presidents and their fate is decided by Dragnea.
PNL’s Orban: If PM doesn’t remove ministers facing problems, we initiate censure motion
National Liberal Party leader Ludovic Orban on Tuesday announced that he is currently considering the initiation of a censure motion if Prime Minister Mihai Tudose does not remove ministers currently facing a range of problems.
“We urge Prime Minister Tudose to stop playing the brave on television, to stop voting in the Social Democratic Party’s Executive Committee for keeping in place the ministers facing criminal charges and we urge him to initiate, for this is his constitutional duty, without the need to ask for permission from Dragnea [PSD leader], to remove, evacuate from the Government by using the emergency stairs, the ministers facing problems, regardless if these are legal problems, plagiarism-related problems or illiteracy and huge incompetence. In case he won’t do that and he won’t remove these ministers from the Government, we take into account the initiation of a censure motion,” Orban stated after the meeting of the Executive Bureau of PNL, taking place at Parliament.
JusMin Toader on reshuffle: It’s important for me not to think about reshuffle, but to do my job
Justice Minister Tudorel Toader said on Tuesday that any minister may be reshuffled at one point, adding that it is important for him not to think about reshuffle but to do his job within the limits of his legal powers.
“Any minister can be reshuffled at any moment; any minister may have his or her office tenure terminated at any given moment. What is important is for me not to dwell on whether I am reshuffled this week or in a month’s time. It is important that I do my job as a minister within the limits of my legal powers,” Toader said at Parliament House, asked if he believes he will be reshuffled.
Asked, on the other hand, whether the three legally embattled ministers should leave the Government, Toader said: “I cannot answer such a question. I cannot assess other ministers.”
Regarding the fact that keeping the three ministers in the Cabinet could affect the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), under which the European Commission assesses Romania’s progress judiciary reform, Toader said he only comments on what is under his jurisdiction.
“Ask the Venice Commission; I am not a spokesman, nor do I express myself on behalf of the commission. I only comment on what falls under my jurisdiction,” Toader said.