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July 31, 2021

PM Ponta’s refusal to resign after being prosecuted by DNA sends shock waves into Romanian political scene : The film of the last three days

Since Friday, Romania has been in an unprecedented political situation. The political scene is sitting on a gunpowder barrel, and the developments of the deep political crisis these days are hard to foresee.


Having been called to the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) on Friday, the same day the National Liberal Party (PNL) was going to submit the motion for the no-confidence vote against the Government in Parliament, President Klaus Iohannis instantly urged Prime-Minister Victor Ponta to resign.


Denying any connection between the date of the introduction of the motion ahead of the no-confidence vote and the fact that the premier had been summoned to DNA to be told that he was a suspect in the Sova case, the PNL leaders also asked for the immediate resignation of the PM, the argument being that the post as the head of the Government was incompatible with being a suspect in a criminal case.


Having said he would not resign, also denouncing the ‘coincidence’ of the PNL no-confidence vote without any mathematical chance of success and DNA’s announcement that he was under criminal investigation and a ‘suspect’ in Sova’s case, Ponta publicly advocated his innocence in a press statement after the emergency meeting of the ruling coalition on Sunday.


He warned that what was happening to him was political retaliation and that the prosecutors’ attitude was meant to unseat the Government which, in his opinion, was a coup against democracy, for democracy provides totally different Constitutional tools for pulling down a Government.


The prime-minister presented evidence dismantling the prosecutors’ allegations and denounced the fact that he had been charged without being investigated or interviewed. Ponta said he would present the evidence also to the prosecutors on Tuesday or Wednesday and pointed at the ‘hypocrisy’ of some, saying that President Iohannis had run in the presidential election while he was under investigation in a case before the High Court, that Predoiu was investigated into in the Gala Bute case or that Alina Gorghiu was in the same situation as Dan Sova, except her case involved a different state-owned company – Electrica.


The PM also noted that the resignation would be the simplest thing for him and his family, but, as long as he was innocent, he had the right to defend himself, but also to complete his term, also considering the fact that his Government had had a series of notable achievements. He also said he enjoyed the broad support of the coalition in Parliament and that he was only willing to go in a democratic manner, not because that was what a prosecutor ordered. He said he was happy with the early election, but only if the no-confidence vote was successful.


Following Ponta’s announcement that he was not going to resign office and carry on, the Liberals who, the day before had asked for snap election, said they would urge the PM to resign every day until he makes the gesture of honour. On Sunday, outraged by the fact that the PM was determined to remain in office, PNL said it would boycott any political action in which Victor Ponta participated. The first occasion will be the consultations announced by President Iohannis with the parliamentary parties on the security strategy, from 18:00 on Monday.


In the meantime, sources informed that the president wanted to call the Supreme Defence Council (CSAT) in session to discuss the crisis and political instability caused by the prime-minister’s legal situation.


Friday night, a group of a few dozens of protesters packed in front of the Government urging the prime-minister to resign. Sunday was a more troubled day, as the protesters called by ex-President Traian Basescu’s soul party, the People’s Movement (PMP) colluded with the law-enforcers as they had no authorisation for a rally.


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