POLITICS

Boc steps down, Basescu to appoint new PM

Traian Basescu was due to announce the name of the next Prime Minister, last night. Earlier, he summoned the parliamentary parties to consultations after Emil Boc presented his resignation. Opposition leaders asked Basescu to resign, but the president refused, saying Romania needs ‘stability’. Coalition leaders opt for a political cabinet, saying it still has the capacity to govern the country, having a ‘functional’ majority in Parliament.

After prime-minister Boc announced his resignation, the president Basescu cancelled the initial consultations supposed to address the ratification of the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union and dialogue between the political parties, announced last week, and to chair a new round of consultations with a different agenda: the appointment of a new prime-minister to form a government backed by a solid parliamentary majority. According to statements made by various Liberal-Democrat leaders during the day, the ruling party, the Democratic-Liberal Party (PDL), pleaded for a technocrat prime-minister, a solution which the president seems to favour.

The coalition will continue to govern as it has ‘a functioning’ majority in Parliament, the representatives of PDL said after talks with the president. According to Teodor Baconshi, the entire coalition opts for a ‘political’ government.

The respective prime-minister would be appointed at the helm of a Cabinet with a political majority, made up of ministers nominated by the ruling coalition parties: PDL, the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR and the National Union for Romanian Progress (UNPR).

PDL First Vice-President Sorin Frunzaverde stated that this option can go through Parliament. He added nevertheless that ministers such as Elena Udrea and Gabriel Oprea should not be part of this government. The idea of a technocrat Prime Minister is on the liking of UNPR alone. UDMR does not agree with it, neither does the group of MPs representing ethnic minorities, MPs that support the government in Parliament although they are not part of the ruling coalition. UDMR representatives made no statements after spending one hour talking with President Basescu.

Opposition representatives Crin Antonescu (PNL), Victor Ponta (PSD) and Daniel Constantin (PC) jointly attended the meeting although they had been invited separately, asking President Basescu to resign and demanding early elections. The President’s obvious answer was “no,” the Head of State invoking, according to Antonescu, the need for political stability.

According to Antonescu, the President also stated that he does not agree with early elections because there is no time for them, they would mean instability and time would be needed in order to find a new Parliamentary majority. PC leader Daniel Constantin stated in his turn that the President is baiting the new government with a one-year term, namely until the spring of 2013. USL also announced that it will not vote any government formula proposed and will not be part of any Parliamentary majority other than one resulting from popular will expressed through elections.

Boc: “I stepped down because I do not cling to power”

After three years and nearly two months at the Victoria Palace, and after surviving a dozen of no-confidence votes (at one point dismissed by the Legislative), Emil Boc yesterday abandoned his position of prime minister by submitting his resignation both in Parliament and to the Presidency. “I followed the procedure and gave up the government’s mandate to both president and Parliament. Under the Constitution, the government politically answers to the Parliament and, as a consequence, I gave up the government’s mandate to the Parliament and, because I was nominated by the president, I also gave it up to the president,” the former premier explained. Rumors about Boc’s resignation surfaced in the early hours of the morning, when news agencies reported about Boc allegedly stating his intention to resign, in a meeting with the leaders of the ruling coalition, held yesterday morning. The formal announcement came at 10.30 AM, at the end of a brief meeting of the Cabinet. “I gave up the mandate because I do not cling to power; I am less interested to keep the position for a few more months, until the November elections. I decided to give up the government’s mandate in order to defuse the political and social tension in the country and to preserve what Romanians have won: the economic stability of the country,” Emil Boc told ministers. He asked the political class to be mature and rapidly vote the new Cabinet in Parliament, and voiced his gratitude to President Traian Basescu for “a correct partnership to the public interest” and for supporting the reform measures, as well as to the ministers that were in office during his mandate. The premier reminded that, last year, Romania had an economic growth of some 2.5 pc – one of the highest rates in the EU – after two years of crisis, while for this year the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund consider that Romania will have an economic growth rate higher above that of the euro zone. “We must defend this economic stability at all cost, and no price is too high for that,” Boc stated.

Predoiu interim PM

President Basescu acknowledged the resignation of the premier and appointed Justice Minister Catalin Predoiu as caretaking PM. He will take over “the attributions of the prime minister, until a new government is formed,” according to the Presidential Administration. As provided by the Constitution, the president must consult all parties represented in the Parliament (because none of them holds the majority) and then nominate a candidate for the position of prime minister. Within 10 days from nomination, the candidate and his team of ministers must be voted by the Parliament, which will debate the ruling programme and the list of ministers in a joint session of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. The Parliament invests the new Cabinet with the vote of the majority of deputies and senators.

Scenarios

Who will be the next prime-minister? Will it be a technocrat or a politician? Will the elections be held at the scheduled time or will we get early elections? The answers to all these questions lie at Cotroceni Palace, which was to host yesterday afternoon consultations between the parliamentary parties, called by the president.

The option envisaged by the Democratic-Liberal Party (PDL) is that of a technocrat prime-minister, but the final decision hangs on the result of talks at Cotroceni. However, the Cabinet will not be one made up of technocrats, but one with a political majority, while the key ministerial portfolios may be held by technocrats. At the same time, a rearrangement of the Cabinet-backing coalition is not precluded, political sources stated for Mediafax. Indeed, PDL announced yesterday, in the voice of party spokesman Sever Voinescu, that it backed the idea of appointing a technocrat as prime-minister and a government “with significant changes”. However, the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR) begs to differ: “We want a political prime-minister, not someone who comes from the financial or business community”. “I won’t go into any speculations until we find out the name of the appointed prime-minister. I am hoping for a very quick nomination, which will meet this essential condition, of selecting a man with a political responsibility,” the Union leader Kelemen Hunor argued. According to the latter, UDMR’s stance on the present situation is that “the coalition should endure, should go on, but this will depend crucially on who is appointed prime-minister”. When asked what the Union would do in the event that the president Traian Basescu does not appoint a political prime-minister, Kelemen Hunor replied that the Union would cross that bridge when it comes to it. Gabriel Oprea’s National Union for Romanian Progress (UNPR) stated it hoped for stability, which may be interpreted as backing a political government, one in which the party would obviously maintain its ministerial portfolios (Defence and Foreign Affairs).

The minorities’ group is not too keen on the idea of a technocrat prime-minister either. “The option of appointing a technocrat as prime-minister is something of a joke, who will back his actions in Parliament? I doubt the Italian or Greek solution will be applied here,” a representatives of the ethnic minorities’ group told NewsIn. According to the latter, having an interim Cabinet until November is not a desirable option either, therefore, the most plausible solution would be holding early elections. The opposition announced, in turn, that its game was all or nothing, that is to say, they call for the president’s resignation or being forced to step down and early elections. “There is a constant in this equation: early elections. They agree to an early elections compact, it’s alright. They don’t, we’ll go on and, in fact, the two elements will come by default: the president’s resignation or recall and early elections,” the Liberal deputy Radu Stroe stated, after attending the Social-Liberal Union (USL) leaders’ meeting.

Who will be the next Prime-Minister?

As on every occasion when the topic of Emil Boc’s resignation came up, the press pointed to the “usual replacements”: Mihai Tanasescu, Romania’s representative at the IMF, central bank governor Mugur Isarescu, his monetary policy aide, Lucian Croitoru, Romanian Intelligence Agency (SRI) chief Cristian Maior or Foreign Intelligence Agency (SIE) chief Mihai Razvan Ungureanu. The list of names mentioned yesterday also includes Transport Minister Anca Boagiu, European Affairs Minister Leonard Orban and Senate Speaker Vasile Blaga. The chairman of the “ProDemocratia” Association, Cristian Parvulescu, stated yesterday, for realitatea.net, that, in his opinion, the candidates closest to the ideal profile were Tanasescu and Isarescu.

“As far as I know, Mihai Tanasescu refused, but, as I’m not a close friend of his, take it with a grain of salt; this aside, he meets the profile of the prospective future prime-minister: he is seen as a technocrat, he was a member of the Social-Democratic Party (PSD),” the analyst argued. Referring to Isarescu, he added: “Isarescu has a technocrat’s profile, he acted as prime-minister before, he may be preferred, though I don’t think he is interested in it so far, he may be if an international signal is sent”. As regards Lucian Croitoru, who was also a candidate for the prime-minister’s office in the autumn of 2009, but did not get the Parliament’s vote, Parvulescu argued: “He is a technocrat; however, he has close ties with the president, so it’s very difficult for him to pass for an independent”.

On the other hand, “Adevarul” reports that SIE head Mihai Razvan Ungureanu is in the pole-position to being nominated. The latter allegedly had a recent meeting with president Basescu, according to sources close to the Cotroceni Palace.

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