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January 23, 2022
POLITICS

Mihai Razvan Ungureanu – premier designate, set to present new cabinet

All existing PDL ministers have been replaced, while UDMR and UNPR preferred to keep their old ones. Designated by President Traian Basescu Monday night, Mihai Ungureanu (independent, SIE chief), yesterday held talks with ruling coalition parties PDL, UNPR, UDMR and was expected to introduce the members of his cabinet last night or this morning. UDMR sets conditions.

Although initially it had been said that some of the members of the resigning cabinet were going to be imported into the new Ungureanu cabinet, yesterday, the PDL leaders decided in unanimity, at ex-PM Emil Boc’s proposal, to replace all of the party’s ministers. Hotnews.ro quotes sources as saying that the preservation of Elena Udrea in the new government stirred some intense arguments during the meeting that took place at the Modrogan party headquarters Monday night, the ‘old guard’ representatives demanding her withdrawal from the front line. ‘Today, all of us in the cabinet are taking a step back and propose a new team that will take PDL into the government and give a new professional expertise, as the old team did. This is a unanimous decision,’ explained PDL President Emil Boc after the meeting of the party Steering College. According to Hotnews.ro sources, Elena Udrea backed Emil Boc’s proposition at the meeting.

Boc noted yesterday that the parliament will give its vote on the new cabinet on Thursday. The ruling coalition leaders would like the hearing of the new ministers in parliament to be over no later than Wednesday.  The list of PDL proposed ministers, voted name by name by the members of the party leadership, was scheduled to be presented to the prime-minister designate last night. Boc stressed out the fact that he wouldn’t like a confusion to be made between the unanimity in favour of the decision and the voting on each particular candidate.

PDL proposals

Inside party sources quoted by Mediafax say MP Razvan Mustea, the leader of the PDL Youth Organisation, will be proposed to become the new Communications Minister. Secretary of State Catalin Baba will be proposed as Minister of Education and Secretary of State Alexandru Nazare (Anca Boagiu’s right hand) as Transport Minister. Deputy Stelian Fuia is PDL’s proposed Minister of Agriculture and Senator Gabriel Berca, former head of the Government Secretariat General during Tariceanu’s term, will be the candidate for Minister of Administration and Interior. Secretary of State Bogdan Dragoi is PDL’s choice for Minister of Finance, the adviser of ex-PM Emil Boc, Andreea Paul Vass – Minister of Economy, PDL MP Claudia Boghicevici – Labour Minister and PDL MP Cristian Petrescu – Minister for Regional Develop­ment and Tourism. According to the quoted source, Andreea Paul Vass, nominated for the Economy portfolio, obtained the smallest number of votes in the PDL Steering College.

The Democrat-Liberals seem to have preferred second tier people, most of them without notoriety, except for Mrs. Vass.

Sources from the coalition also told Mediafax that the independent Ministers Leonard Orban – European Affairs and Catalin Predoiu – Justice will be kept on in the Ungureanu Cabinet. At the same time, UDMR will also preserve the ministers it now has: Kelemen Hunor – Culture, Laszlo Borbely – Environment, Ritli Ladislau – Health and Deputy Prime-Minister Marko Bela. Most likely, UNPR leaders Gabriel Oprea and Cristian Diaconescu will also keep their respective positions as Minister of Defence and Minister of Foreign Affairs.

PM designate Mihai Razvan Ungureanu actually said at parliament, yesterday, answering a question from the press, that he wanted Leonard Orban (independent), Cristian Diaconescu (UNPR) and Catalin Predoiu (independent) in his cabinet, because they all are outstanding professionals.

Consultations

Having held a meeting with the leaders of the ruling coalition at Victoria Palace yesterday morning, Premier designate Mihai Razvan Ungureanu also had separate talks with the leaderships of the National Union for the Progress of Romania (UNPR), the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (UNPR and the minorities. Talks were also scheduled for yesterday evening with the leaders of the Democrat Liberal Party (PDL).

During his speech at Cotroceni Monday evening, after President Basescu appointed him as prime minister, Ungureanu announced his first goal being the “speedy formation of a new Government, given the negative impact any transitional form would have on the running of this country.” He also maintained that his non-partisanship is warranting him the room necessary to fulfil his term and vowed to hold meetings with the opposition on topics of national interest.

According to Realitatea.net, Ungureanu telephoned Social-Democrat Party (PSD) President Victor Ponta to discuss the new political situation and the issue of likely meetings with opposition leaders. The PSD president conveyed to the PM-designate his openness for talks, yet insisted such meeting would not change the political stand of the Social-Liberal Union (USL).

UNPR: We haven’t asked for portfolios

After talks with the UNPR group, Ungureanu said that what happened, namely “the UNPR’s support” was within his expectations. In his turn, Gabriel Oprea, the executive president of the UNPR, said that the Union had not ask for portfolios in the next Cabinet, but only the large wealth tax law to become part of the government program. Oprea also said that the UNPR is supportive of the government formula led by the premier-designate, since it would ensure Romania’s stability. UNPR President Marian Sarbu said that Ungureanu appears “determined” to discuss a timetable of public employee salary increases after the first quarter of this year.

After his meeting with the ethnic minorities’ group, Ungureanu voiced his hope the latter would back him. At the end of the meeting with UDMR, the nominated prime-minister made a very general statement to the effect that “these talks have as their object securing the support needed for what is going to happen in Parliament in the following days”. UDMR’s parliamentary groups had scheduled yesterday evening a meeting to address the topic of the new Cabinet. The deputy PM Marko Bela stated yesterday there was no question of modifying the governmental algorithm based on which portfolios are allotted to every party in the ruling coalition. But, according to Mediafax, UDMR set conditions to support the Ungureanu cabinet, conditions that were to be discussed Tuesday evening. UDMR leader Kelemen Hunor said his party wants a coalition protocol for 2012 to include solving issues like the Medicine Faculty in Mures and Transilvania Highway.

Emil Boc, whereto?

Even if it’s not very clear whether Emil Boc resigned of his own accord or he was given “a nudge”, the leader of the ruling party risks losing his political office as well. It should be added that his resignation comes after several prominent party leaders, such as Vasile Blaga or Cezar Preda, challenged his authority. However, Emil Boc stated yesterday he had been elected by the Congress and “would act as such, as the president of PDL”. The pro-governmental daily “Evenimentul Zilei” claims that, after stepping down as prime-minister, Emil Boc may also relinquish the reins of PDL, which may be taken over by an interim leader, possibly Vasile Blaga. PDL allegedly has in store a back-up plan for Emil Boc. Thus, it is rumoured the latter may run once again for Cluj Mayor’s Office (a position he held twice before), a task many believe he should take on for the party’s sake. In a statement made on Monday evening on TVR 1, the Democrat-Liberal leader argued he hadn’t considered making a comeback as the Cluj-Napoca mayor, but added he was still fond of the city and “there’s no place like home.”

Who is the new premier? Head of SIE, ex-minister of Foreign Affairs, former Liberal

The new Prime Minister designate was appointed as chief of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE) in December 2007. As many analysts noticed Monday evening, Ungureanu still has not announced his resignation from his position with SIE and was still mentioned by the internet site of the Service as Director. Thus, Romania has – in premiere – Prime Minister designate that is also the acting chief of an intelligence service.

Prior to becoming SIE chief, Mihai Razvan Ungureanu was minister of Foreign Affairs between December 29, 2004 and February 4, 2007 in the cabinet of the then Liberal PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu. Ungureanu quit his diplomatic position two days after Tariceanu demanded his resignation, following a row caused by the detaining of two Romanian workers in Iraq. At that moment, Premier Tariceanu accused Ungureanu of informing only the head of state, President Traian Basescu, about this situation, which he kept secret to the Government, in the context of already tense relations between PM Tariceanu and President Basescu. This seems to be the reason for Ungureanu turning his back on Tariceanu and choosing the camp of Basescu.

Another interesting aspect is that Ungureanu, who was presented as the choice of the PDL-UNPR-UDMR ruling coalition for Prime Minister designate, was a Liberal in the past. He became a member of PNL in 2004 and suspended himself from the party in 2007, when he left MAE and returned to his position as Romania’s representative in the Southeast European Cooperation Initiative (SECI), headquartered in Vienna – a position incompatible with that of party member. During his high-school years, Ungureanu was an alternate member of the Central Committee of the Communist Youth Union (CC of UTC), but was no member of PCR, as he mentions in his bio posted on the SIE website.

A graduate of the History-Philosophy Faculty of the ‘Al. I. Cuza’ University of Iasi, he has a doctorate in modern history and worked with this university during 1992-2005. From 1998 to 2011, Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu acted as state secretary with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE), then he was appointed as general director – regional emissary of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe (2001-2003) and deputy-coordinator of SECI (2003-2004).

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