Leaders of the Social Liberal Union (USL) did not come to an agreement yesterday as to whether or not Klaus Iohannis, mayor of Sibiu, should be appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Internal Affairs, and a meeting is scheduled to take place today to settle the issue. Because the Deputy Prime Minister will coordinate economic areas and the position is incompatible with the Internal Affairs, the Government structure needs to be modified through a procedure that must be passed by the Parliament. “We have not reached any conclusions today because we did not plan on doing so. We agreed on a new meeting of the USL leadership for tomorrow where everybody will come up with proposals other than the ones we have put forth (…) PNL proposed, among other things, that I take over the office of the interior minister and the office of deputy prime minister, which is out of synch with the current structure of the Government, according to which the finance minister is also the deputy prime minister. Consequently, the Government’s structure has to change, which only the Parliament can do through a decision,” Iohannis told a press conference yesterday. However, the mayor of Sibiu did not rule out the possibility of coordinating finance sector activities as Deputy Prime Minister while simultaneously being Minister of Internal Affairs. Yet, he pointed out it was not possible for Gabriel Oprea, also Deputy Prime Minister, to coordinate areas of the Internal Affairs Ministry (MAI).
When asked if USL leaders reached a consensus on passing the amendments on Government structure through the Parliament, he replied, “Yes, that is clear. It is the only way and everyone accepted it as such. (…) It will be carried out when we are ready. The best option would be to finish negotiating tomorrow and call the joint Chambers Wednesday. A decision would then be made in the Parliament and everyone could assume their post; this would be the best option.”
He underlined the intention is not to create a third version of the Ponta Government, but merely to change the structure of the Executive, which can only be achieved through the Parliament.
Prime Minister Victor Ponta also confirmed that USL leaders will meet today to discuss the Government structure. “(…) It’s impossible. In accordance with the Parliament’s Decision 45 of 2012, the position of Deputy Prime Minister is linked to the position of Minister of Finance. If the position of Deputy Prime Minister is to be tied to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, a new Parliamentary decision is necessary,” he said. Ponta explained the plan is to go before the Parliament and see to what degree the Government structure can be improved upon. “The idea is not to go before the Parliament only to move the Deputy Prime Minister from Finance to Internal Affairs, but to see to what degree the Government’s activity can be improved upon. Almost two years have passed since we have been active and we will use the occasion to ask for support in whatever is necessary – improving the functioning mechanism,” the PM added. He noted that PSD will not bring amendments to the Government structure and Dan Nica will be the only Social Democrat to leave the Executive, since he will be running in the EP elections. Gabriel Oprea will not be demoted from Deputy Prime Minister, Ponta underlined.
What remains certain is that the Liberals are not willing to give up on either the Minister of Internal Affairs or Deputy Prime Minister position for Iohannis. In fact, Iohannis once more expressed determination in becoming Deputy Prime Minister and pointed out he will follow all the necessary steps required by law in this respect. “I wish to clarify that this only concerns me and I don’t necessarily need advice unless I ask for it. On the other hand, it’s obvious we, PNL, will never ask for a law to accommodate one single man and I am not intent on putting myself in a questionable situation. I reiterate my determination in becoming the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Internal Affairs; I will take all the necessary steps required by law and clarify any issues that might come up before I assume those positions,” the mayor of Sibiu said further.
Iohannis was referring to the legal requirement of resigning as mayor to become a Government official. Upon request, the National Integrity Agency informed the Government’s General Secretariat yesterday that according to the law, a locally elected person must resign before it can be appointed member of the Government. ANI representatives referred to Article 86 under Law 161/2003, which stipulates such a person must declare it is not in incompatibility before being sworn-in, or if applicable, being appointed. In this respect, Prime Minister Ponta said he does not need a guarantee from Klaus Iohannis that he will resign as mayor of Sibiu, as it is obvious he will do so before being appointed member of the Government, as required by law.