Liberals resign from Government, PSD appoints interim ministers

PM Ponta: Different governing formula possible if Parliament does not support new Cabinet. Former PNL leader Calin Popescu Tariceanu has resigned from PNL. Basescu-Ponta talks at Cotroceni.

As expected, the liberal ministers submitted their resignations from Government yesterday, PM Ponta immediately sent the list of interim ministers to Cotroceni and President Basescu promptly approved it. The Premier said that next Tuesday he will come in Parliament with a new cabinet and he will also discuss with UDMR in this respect. On the other hand, disputes started in the liberal camp over the decision of leaving the ruling coalition, as former PNL leader Calin Popescu Tariceanu yesterday asked Crin Antonescu to withdraw the decision. Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta arrived at Cotroceni presidential Palace at around 11 a.m. on Wednesday, for talks with President Traian Basescu on the formation of the new Cabinet. President Traian Basescu on Wednesday signed the decrees noting the resignations of the Liberal ministers, and naming the new interim ministers.
‘The Prime Minister requested that other seven ministries should be headed by interim ministers, incumbent Cabinet members. Being informed that he has not finished the negotiations with other political parties on securing a parliamentary majority, I agreed to sign immediately the decrees,’ Basescu said at the Presidential Cotroceni Palace.
Thus, Minister of Youth and Sports Nicolae Banicioiu takes over the Health Ministry ad-interim, Minister-delegate for Social Dialogue Adriana Doina Pana was appointed caretaker Minister of Labour, Family, Social Protection and the Elderly and Minister-delegate for Infrastructure Projects of National Interest and Foreign Investments Dan Coman Sova was named interim Transport Minister. In addition, Minister-delegate for Higher Education, Scientific Research and Technological Development Mihnea Cosmin Costoiu took over the culture portfolio ad-interim.

Minister of Environment and Climate Change Rovana Plumb was appointed caretaker Minister-delegate for Waters, Forests and Fisheries, Justice Minister Robert Marius Cazanciuc as interim Minister-delegate for Liaison with Parliament and Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean as caretaker Minister-delegate for the Romanians Everywhere.
The Liberal ministers Mariana Campeanu, Eugen Nicolaescu, Gigel Stirbu, Ramona Manescu, Mihai Voicu, Lucia Varga and Cristian David went to the Victoria Palace (the govt’s offices) Wednesday morning to tender their resignations from office. The only one who refused to resign was ANAF head, Gelu Diaconu, endorsed by PNL.
Ponta also said that if the new Government he will present next week does not pass Parliament’s vote, he would consider a different governing formula. Asked whether he considered his resignation as head of the Executive following the National Liberal Party’s announcement of the termination of the Social Liberal Union (USL) Ponta answered, ‘We have all been elected under USL, starting with the Senate Chairman, the Chamber of Deputies Chairman, and down to all the Parliament Members. On the other hand, we formed different parliamentary groups from the very beginning of the term, and on Tuesday, I will actually go before the Parliament for a vote. In the event that the Parliament does not support the new Government, we will obviously discuss a different formula.’ Asked whether he has already begun negotiations with the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania Ponta said, ‘No, we did not discuss that, but we soon will, so that we get a solid majority in the Parliament.’  UDMR Chairman Hunor Kelemen told Agerpres that the Union is ready to extend a helping hand to Prime Minister Victor Ponta. Things are hectic enough now, I do not know when we shall talk. I have gathered that Prime Minister Ponta wants it and depending on the conclusions of the talks, we shall make a decision,’ said Kelemen.
In yesterday’s Government session, first in the new formula, PM Ponta said he regrets PNL ministers’ withdrawal. “I understand party discipline, I have nothing to reproach them with anything, but the Government and ruling are always more important than party discipline”, said Ponta.
Chair of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament (S&D), Hannes Swoboda told RFI Romania that the withdrawal of the National Liberal Party (PNL) from the ruling alliance is not a very responsible gesture and it is not of much help to Romania, at the same time noting that the decision announced by the Liberals late on Tuesday ‘is worse than if they had remained in the Government until the end.’ Swoboda believes that Victor Ponta ‘would be a very good president of Romania, but he is also a very good prime minister,’ so ‘he is faced with a tough choice’ regarding his political future.

After he announced that he signed for the interim ministers, President Traian Basescu lashed at Ponta and Antonescu, saying that they are “so petty” and he will make political arrangements with none of them. “If there is something that upsets me is that the two leaders are so petty, I mean Ponta and Antonescu, that they felt the urge to play a game about who speaks with the president, and this is why they part ways. It is a lie, I communicate institutionally with everybody, including Zgonea, the ministers, because this is in my job description, but I make political arrangements with nobody,” the president stated. He also accused the two political leaders of having succeeded to give the impression of instability, at a moment when the region is regarded as unstable.
President Traian Basescu  also declared that he discussed with Prime Minister Victor Ponta the Letter of Intent with the International Monetary Fund (IMF); he said he will sign the document if it does not include a higher fuel tax and the so-called ‘electo-rate’. ’From my point of view, the letter can be signed. (…) On the condition that it does not include the higher fuel tax (…) and the famous ‘electo-rate’, I will sign the letter, and I will do that immediately after its approval by the Government; I hope it passes today (e.n yesterday),’ Basescu said at the Cotroceni Palace. ‘Electo-rate’ is the name given by media to the Government initiative in support of individual debtors with monthly incomes up to RON 1,600 who can no longer pay their bank instalments at the initially agreed levels. They must have clean repayment records and no outstanding debts older than 6 months.
UDMR claims PM asked for support
Kelemen Hunor, chairman of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR), stated Wednesday that he was called by Prime Minister Victor Ponta, who invited him to discuss about supporting the new Government. “We agreed to meet in coming days, but we did not set a specific date and place. I accepted his invitation,” Kelemen announced in a statement before reporters at UDMR headquarters.

Tariceanu resigns from PNL, disputes within the party continue

Former PNL leader Calin Popescu Tariceanu yesterday resigned yesterday from the National Liberal Party, the District 1 organisation. The information was confirmed by Cristina Pocora, PNL spokesperson.
Earlier in the day, Tariceanu took the initiative and opposed the party’s decision to leave the government. He appealed to PNL president Crin Antonescu, whom he asked to withdraw the decision made Tuesday and reintegrate the USL. He added that yesterday morning he had a discussion with Victor Ponta, who assured him that he wants USL to continue “in its present form.” According to Tariceanu, “a crisis of self-pride” and political ambitions sparked through USL, and in a marriage “small disagreements do not always lead to divorce.” PNL promptly reacted through the voice of spokeswoman Cristina Pocora, who announced that Tariceanu has no mandate to discuss in the name of PNL with PM Victor Ponta about maintaining USL and his action ranges outside the decision of the party. Tariceanu, Cristian David, Radu Stroe and Ioan Ghise were among the liberals who opposed the breaking of USL in the vote cast by the Permanent Delegation of PNL, Tuesday evening. Political sources quoted by the press even claimed that Tariceanu plans to resign from PNL. National Liberal Party (PNL) Chairman Crin Antonescu on Tuesday announced that the Liberals, in the Standing Delegation meeting, decided to withdraw from the Government, as PNL noticed a de facto demise of the ruling Social Liberal Union(USL). Moreover, the Liberals called for PM Ponta resignation and said they will use, from the opposition, the motion of censure against the Government, a procedure which they consider to be ‘the prime parliamentary weapon.’ On the other hand, Antonescu declared that he will not step down from his Senate Speaker position and that PNL will return to governing by the end of this year at the latest.
Just in: PNL leader Crin Antonescu stated yesterday evening, during a press conference, that Tariceanu’s resignation is a sad moment for PNL, to see that he acted against the decisions of the party. “The most unpleasant thing for PNL is that Tariceanu has left the impression that PNL might be a clientele-oriented party,” Antonescu said. “I can only add that I invite all liberals that behaved elegantly to remember Calin Popescu Tariceanu as the youngster in 1990 on the balcony, as the PM of Romania on behalf of PNL, and not as the one that walked alone towards Ponta’s door”, he added.

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