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December 3, 2021

Coalition falls apart as PSD ministers resign

The Democrat-Liberals are likely to opt for an interim government for the time being as they do not have enough support in Parliament to pass a new cabinet. The Social-Democrats blame the President for the crisis.

The Coalition fell apart on Thursday morning after the Social-Democrat Ministers handed their resignations to Premier Emil Boc as an answer to the Head of State approving the reshuffling of Internal Affairs Minister Dan Nica.

The collapse of the Coalition caused immediate ripples on the market, with the stock market falling by 2.13 per cent half way through its session on Thursday and the RON depreciating. Moreover, the brokers consider that the share prices will continue to drop in the following period.

It remains to be seen how Romania’s image abroad will be affected by the announcement. The first reactions have already appeared, with Hannes Swoboda, the Vice President of the Group of Socialists and Democrats within the EP, opining that the current political crisis’s chances to affect the obtainment of a certain portfolio within the EC depend on the way in which the future Government will be formed.

What is certain is that President Traian Basescu interrupted his visit in Cluj on Thursday, urgently returning to Bucharest. During his visit in Cluj, where he took part in folk dances and visited several institutions, the Head of State refused to make any comments on the situation.

In what concerns Prime Minister Boc, yesterday afternoon he met with the ambassadors of EU states. The Premier also convened a Government meeting yesterday evening in order to analyze the new developments.

PSD: Basescu and PD-L are responsible

‘PSD will do what it promised to do,’ this was the Social-Democrat leader’s first reaction after Basescu signed the reshuffling decree. Immediately afterwards Geoana convened the PSD Ministers at the Senate in order to hold talks on leaving the Government.

After talks that lasted for more than one hour and a half, Geoana and the Social-Democrat Ministers announced their resignation from the Government. The PSD leader stated that ‘the entire Social-Democrat Ministerial group announces its resignation today in solidarity with Dan Nica. Traian Basescu has managed to do once again what he has been doing for five years – to provoke a political crisis that overlaps the economic crisis. He is the main responsible party.’

‘This is maybe the moment of our liberation from a partnership that indeed was probably welcomed several months ago but that today is clearly and brutally denounced by Traian Basescu and terminated by his humble servant Emil Boc,’ Geoana stated, accusing the Head of State that ‘he holds nothing holy, he doesn’t focus on the national interest, he only keeps his eyes on his electoral interest.’

Subsequently Dan Nica announced that the resignations had been filed to the Victoria Palace, stating that PD-L is completely responsible for the political crisis. ‘Throwing Romania in the midst of this political crisis that, overlapped with the economic crisis, can have punishing, serious effects, is the full responsibility of President Traian Basescu, of Prime Minister Emil Boc and of PD-L, the ones that chose to abandon the actions seeking to redress the Romanian economy, to create safe jobs for Romanians and to secure their incomes, in favour of engaging in electoral struggle and of winning the electoral campaign at any cost,’ Nica said. However he pointed out that the PSD Ministers will return to the Government at the end of this year, after the elections, in order to restart the economy.

In his turn, PSD Honourary President Ion Iliescu stated that the Head of State is ‘the one that threw the country in the midst of a governmental crisis,’ while Prime Minister Emil Boc ‘only played the role of interpreter in this game dictated by Basescu.’

Adrian Nastase, the President of PSD’s National Council, stated that Traian Basescu is ‘the one that orchestrated this operation’ and the one that ‘finalized it’ by signing the decree on reshuffling Dan Nica on Wednesday. Nastase added that the Social-Democrats should not cast their antipathy towards Basescu on PD-L and that PD-L, which is currently the President’s ‘hostage,’ could return to normalcy after the Presidential elections. Asked whether PSD and PD-L still have the possibility of cooperating, the former Prime Minister stated that he hopes that PSD and PD-L will be able to cooperate ‘in order to solve the country’s problems’ after the Presidential elections.

As part of the Government the PSD controlled the Education, Health, Foreign Affairs, Labor, Agriculture, Relations with Parliament, SMEs, Internal Affairs, and Environment portfolios.

Censure motion specter

Now that PSD has left the Government the initiation of a censure motion against the Boc Government seems a likely possibility. Sources from within the PSD leadership, quoted by Mediafax, have stated that the possibility of backing a censure motion was touched upon during the Social-Democrat Ministers’ meeting but no decision was taken, with the leaders waiting to see the PD-L’s evolution and political moves.

The aforementioned sources state that the Social-Democrat leaders took into consideration the fact that in case a censure motion were to be adopted by Parliament before the Presidential elections the current Government would remain in office with diminished prerogatives but would nevertheless organize the Presidential elections and the referendum called by President Basescu.

The cards are being dealt: boc takes education and udrea the environment?

The Social-Democrats’ quitting the Government means new calculations for PDL. Not to have to go before the Parliament for a vote, the PDL ministers will take over the portfolios that have just been vacated by the Social-Democrats. Mediafax quotes PDL sources saying that PM Emil Boc might become the interim Foreign Minister or Education Minister. If the PM is also the Education Minister, Catalin Predoiu may be the next Foreign Minister of the Government. Predoiu has been also proposed to become the interim Parliament Liaison Minister.

Another FM option is Defence Minister Mihai Stanisoara. Since he has worked on the single pay act, Finance Minister Gheorghe Pogea could also lead the Labour Ministry for a while. Economy Minister Adriean Videanu is being considered for either SMEs or Health. An almost certain thing is that Tourism Minister Elena Udrea will be temporarily the Environment Minister as well.

The Government has not found any solution for the Agriculture Ministry. If PDL chose a coalition government, PNL would be the only party together with which it could still hope for a 50 per cent plus support in Parliament, Realitatea.net also says.

But the Liberals have announced they would not be in any government formula before the presidential election. Another option would be a PDL minority government, but chances of being accepted by Parliament are extremely low as PDL has just 168 seats and would need 236 votes. PDL could also count on the 31 UDMR MPs and 18 votes from the other minorities, but it would still be 19 votes short. PDL can keep the interim portfolios for a total of 60 days, of which the first 15 would still be covered by the PSD ministers and the last 45 days representing the actual interim mandate, meaning that a new Cabinet could be sent into Parliament for validation around December 1, in between the two rounds of election.

Campaign moves

PDL leader Vasile Blaga, who was named interim Home Affairs Minister on Wednesday, yesterday said he was not going to be Traian Basescu’s campaign manager if he stands for election and that he would not be on PDL’s campaign staff in order not to leave room for suspicion.

Blaga went to the MAI offices yesterday to talk to Dan Nica, and stressed that things would turn normal from the point of view of the leadership of the ministry. The election campaign was also Adrian Videanu’s main topic, as he accused PSD of making a purely electoral move yesterday. ‘PDL is undertaking the governance, without PSD. On the other hand, PSD has chosen to withdraw from the Government and start the election campaign,’ Adriean Videanu stressed out. PSD had several alternatives to continue the act of governance, the PDL vice-president explained – namely nominate someone else to the Ministry of Home Affairs, appoint a PSD interim minister, appoint an independent or someone from the Opposition, and keep the political vice-premier’s office. ‘But PSD demonstrates that its agenda is different from the one Romania has today,’ Videanu said.

Analysts: PSD has more to lose than to win from leaving the Government

Leaving the government will bring PSD more loss than profit, say political analysts, who do not see too many gains resulting from the fact that the Social-Democrats have left their ministerial chairs.

Meanwhile, PNL once again asked President Basescu to start consultations with parties, in view of forming a Cabinet of technocrats, led by an independent premier, PNL vice-president Ludovic Orban announced yesterday.

“PNL reiterates its request for the president to take note that he does not have a Cabinet now and to start the procedures in view of forming a Government of technocrats, led by an independent premier,” Orban said, quoted by Mediafax. Orban’s statement comes after PNL President Crin Antonescu had earlier announced in Timisoara that the Liberals will monitor how “caretaking positions” will be filled and – “without any doubt” – their point of view “will be probably expressed in a non-confidence motion,” because “the Government no longer has majority in Parliament.”

Antonescu also launched a strong attack against the PD-L – PSD coalition, “which was in power until now and had no consideration for Romania during nine months, which makes the two parties equally guilty.”

Meanwhile, after the “divorce” from PSD, nobody seems willing to join the Democrat-Liberals. Opposition parties do not have the slightest intention to enter an Executive with PD-L. “They did not want us in December, now they must get out of crisis by themselves,” said Kelemen Hunor, the presidential candidate of UDMR. UDMR President Marko Bela commented that PSD’s withdrawal from power is the foreseeable end of a permanent government crisis. According to the UDMR leader, the future will bring a caretaking provisional government, which will administer the country for the time being.

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