* Ex-Premier Victor Ponta coveting third-highest office in the state
On Monday, the Lower Chamber took note of the fact that the Lower Chamber Speaker’s office is vacant, Lower Chamber Secretary Marcel Ciolacu (PSD) announced after the Standing Bureau’s meeting.
“A request was received from the PSD group, in order for the first Lower Chamber plenum meeting to note MP Stefan Valeriu Zgonea’s rightful cessation of his capacity as Lower Chamber Speaker and as member of the Standing Bureau. Now we will go within the plenum, will vote and take note of the rightful vacancy of the office,” Marcel Ciolacu stated.
The Lower Chamber adopted on Monday, with 167 votes in favour, 32 against and one abstention, the draft decision to dismiss Valeriu Zgonea (photo), PSD Lower Chamber member Florin Iordache, chairman of the meeting, informed. The Standing Bureau was then convened in order to elect an acting Lower Chamber Speaker.
PSD MP Florin Iordache was nominated acting Speaker of the Lower Chamber on Monday afternoon, Lower Chamber Secretary Marcel Ciolacu (PSD) announced at the end of the Standing Bureau meeting that took place immediately after the plenum meeting in which the draft decision to dismiss Valeriu Zgonea was adopted.
According to the Statute Commission, Valeriu Zgonea can be dismissed because he was excluded from his party and, consequently, he lost the political support of the Social Democrats who nominated and supported him while in office.
Thus, the leaders of the group that nominated and endorsed Zgonea notify the Standing Bureau about the decision to withdraw their political support for him and to cancel his party membership, and the Standing Bureau places it on the order of the day of the next plenum meeting which will adopt a draft decision on the vacancy of the office.
Last Wednesday, the members of the Lower Chamber adopted the amendments to the Lower Chamber Regulations, with 204 votes in favour, one against and 88 abstentions, thus introducing two new ways of dismissing the Chamber’s Speaker – through vote or through the withdrawal of political support.
Thus, the MPs modified Article 21, Paragraph 4 of the Lower Chamber Regulations as follows: “The capacity of Lower Chamber Speaker (…) ceases before the tenure expires as a result of dismissal, on the basis of the terms of the following Regulations, or legally ceases in the following conditions: d) in case political support is lost, in line with Art.32, Par.3 of law no.96/2006, republished, on the date the Lower Chamber plenum is notified about the cessation of the capacity of Standing Bureau member.” The article had previously read only: “The capacity of Lower Chamber Speaker or member of the Standing Bureau is terminated only in case of resignation, dismissal or as a result of no longer being member of the Lower Chamber.”
Another amendment to the Regulations meant to ease the dismissal of Valeriu Zgonea was the one brought to Article 26, and stipulates who can file the dismissal proposal. Thus, according to the amendment adopted, the new article reads: “The dismissal proposal is filed in writing by the leader of the parliamentary group concerned (the one that made the nomination – editor’s note).” The article of law currently in force reads: “The dismissal proposal is filed in writing by the leader of the parliamentary group whose membership is held by the Bureau member whose dismissal is requested.”
PSD President Liviu Dragnea stated on Monday that Valeriu Zgonea’s replacement will be announced on Tuesday, at PSD’s National Executive Committee, but that the decision will be his since the responsibility is also his.
Ex-Premier Victor Ponta has announced he will file his candidacy for the party’s nomination for the office of Lower Chamber Speaker, after Valeriu Zgonea vacates the office. Ponta stated that he has discussed with several colleagues who told him that that “would be good for PSD.”
“First of all, I want Liviu to support me, then the other colleagues,” Victor Ponta stated. In reply, Liviu Dragnea sarcastically stated that since Ponta “has nominated himself” then the vote is pointless.
Likewise, there is the possibility that Liviu Dragnea himself could consider filing a bid for the nomination, in order to deter Victor Ponta’s supporters.
Nevertheless, Dragnea stated on Monday that he is not interested in this office, being interested in the office of PSD President instead, and that he hopes that along with his colleagues he would win the parliamentary elections.
“I don’t want this, I still want the office of PSD President and the office of winner of the parliamentary elections, alongside my colleagues. These are the most important offices. And, in fact, the main office held by each party member, starting with me, will be that of soldier in the political trenches until the parliamentary elections. The answer is no,” Dragnea said.