Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta said at the end of a meeting of the governing Social Liberal Union (USL, an alliance of Social Democrats PSD, Liberals PNL and Conservatives PC) on Monday that there is not yet an agreement on the Government structure.
‘From our viewpoint, from the USL viewpoint there are two alternatives – we either stay with the Government as it is since 2012, as it was voted by Parliament and as of this moment, I am any time waiting for the PNL proposals for vice prime minister, finance minister, interior minister and economy minister or we proceed to massive restructuring, but there is no consensus in the USL for such restructuring and we do not go to Parliament without a consensus,’ Social Democrat leader Ponta said, quoted by Agerpres, at the Palace of Parliament. He insisted that ‘if the PC does not agree or the PNL or the PSD do not agree, we will not go to Parliament until there is a consensus’. Inquired to what point he is willing to go with the negotiations with PNL, the PSD leader replied: “Until we find the solution to remain in USL,” adding that the social-democrats are “fully flexible to regarding the preservation of ruling as the Social Liberal Union.” He said the Social Democratic Union (made up of PSD, PC and UNPR) will not force a vote in the Parliament to reshuffle the government and remove PNL. “No. We will not get that into Parliament. I’ll do everything in my power to continue with the USL formula,” said Ponta. Inquired about what USD will do now, the PM said this election alliance will win the European Parliament elections this year. The meeting of USL leaders lasted less than an hour.
Prior to these statements, Ponta had said he wanted to forward, even yesterday, PNL proposals for the positions of ministers that belong to the liberals, in the version of and un-reshuffled government.
According to the PM, in this version, Sibiu mayor Klaus Iohannis was supposed to get the position of Minister of the Interior, vacated by Radu Stroe, or vice-PM and minister of Finance, vacated by Daniel Chitoiu.
PNL passes responsibility of making a final decision to PSD
On the other hand, Liberals remain firm in their position, as PNL head Crin Antonescu stated his party still disapproves of introducing a new deputy prime minister position for PC. In this respect, Antonescu said the decision regarding the Cabinet’s future falls entirely under Prime Minister Victor Ponta’s responsibility and he has two options – either he accepts PNL’s proposals or creates a new government.
“Mr. Ponta has to decide whether we will go before the Parliament as we have discussed – without conditions, additional deputy prime ministers, or other such things – or he does something with the vacant ministries. (…) He must make the decision, not us. There are no negotiations to be had because there is nothing really to negotiate,” Antonescu explained, stressing the Executive is in a “crisis of governance” at the moment.
“The Government issue is simple. Mr. Prime Minister can spend the next three months thinking the matter through, but he still has to solve the Government problem because Mr. Chitoiu, Mr. Stroe, and Mr. Gerea will resign,” the PNL leader continued. According to Antonescu, the Liberals are open to discussions on government restructuring that could lead to a Government consisting of 14 or 15 ministries. The chairman of PNL noted he hopes the PM is not under the same false impression as President Traian Basescu that he can stall in order to determine the Liberals to reconsider their position on the conditions imposed to accept Klaus Iohannis. When asked whether USL will break as a result of disagreements between its political leaders, Antonescu replied, “I hope not, but this situation cannot continue.”
Asked what will happen if Ponta proposes USD members as interim leaders of the ministries vacated as a result of the former PNL ministers’ resignations, he stated that this would mean that the Prime Minister wants to build another government that does not belong to USL. Moreover, he considers that the USL protocol was broken when PSD, PC and UNPR formed USD. He was also asked whether USL is currently suspended. “No, the alliance is not suspended, but the government as an institution has a problem,” the PNL President added. Asked whether there is the risk of PNL breaking up as a result of the government crisis, he answered: “I can tell you with certainty that PNL will not break.”
…and the reverse
However, PC President Daniel Constantin has an entirely different opinion, claiming that at this moment “the ball is not in USL’s court, it is in PNL’s court.”
“There are two solutions to the political crisis: we do not reshuffle the government and we wait for PNL’s proposals; and the second solution, we reshuffle the government and return to the protocol. There are two options, we reshuffle the government or we do not, both are on PNL’s table,” Constantin added. In his opinion, “a sort of personal ambition” has appeared around the PNL leadership, one that creates “political blockage.” He pointed out that the office of Deputy Prime Minister is not a made-up one, being an office that exists within the USL protocol, an office mentioned for every one of the parties making up the alliance. Daniel Constantin also added that PC so far has made two concessions that have been forgotten, namely it has ceded the office of Speaker of the Senate and has given up the office of Deputy Prime Minister in 2012. “It seems there has been no kind of echo, so to say, at any level within PNL, so then I don’t think we can talk of a concession anymore.”
Ponta wants STS under Parliament control now
Prime Minister Victor Ponta said on Monday he wants to place STS under parliamentary control. Ponta met Varujan Pambuccian, leader of minorities’ group in the Parliament in this respect. “I had a talk about a topic Varujan Pambuccian knows very well, namely telecommunications. He proposed that we find an even better formula than the one proposed by the Government regarding STS reorganization: 112 should switch to the Interior Ministry, like everywhere else in Europe, and the department led by Raed Arafat and STS should be placed under Parliament control,” said Victor Ponta.