The Romanian Parliament convened in a plenary meeting on Wednesday, at noon, to debate and vote on the no-confidence motion that PNL and USR filed against the Grindeanu Government, a motion motivated by the Government’s amendments to criminal legislation. The PNL-USR bid was backed by PMP. PSD, ALDE and UDMR MPs abstained from voting.
In the end, the no-confidence motion was rejected with 161 votes in favour and 8 against.
To pass, the motion would have needed at least 233 votes in favour.
The MPs who signed the no-confidence motion can no longer table another no-confidence motion during this parliamentary session, except in case the Government engages its responsibility before Parliament.
According to the Constitution, the Lower Chamber and the Senate can withdraw their confidence in the Government by jointly adopting a no-confidence motion with the ballots cast by the majority of MPs.
PM Grindeanu: I understood the emotion and the anger caused by GEO 13. I will not accept such initiatives in the Government anymore
Addressing Parliament on Wednesday, Premier Sorin Grindeanu stated that he understood “the emotion and the anger” cause by GEO no.13 on the judiciary, and the Government will not initiate such laws anymore, and that it will be a Cabinet “of the dialogue and public consultation”.
He emphasised that he wants to contribute to the Romanians’ much needed reconciliation.
“As Prime Minister, I want to contribute to the much needed reconciliation of the Romanians. (…) I assure you that I am fully aware of all the emotion and anger Ordinance No. 13 has triggered. A great part of the country democratically conveyed us their belief that they cannot identify the general good in that ordinance. Therefore, I decided to promptly call a Government sitting and repeal the act. I’ll never again accept any such initiative in the Government. As a PM, I felt I had to do that. These subjects which can send emotions running high in society require much more debate, more dialogue, more expert opinions, and the best place for this to happen is here, in Parliament,” Grindeanu said during Parliament debates on the no-confidence motion.
Grindeanu, in the plenum: Besides slogans and clinging to the protests to restore his credibility, Iohanis’s yearning for restoring “my Government” has been revealed
Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu stated also in Parliament that beyond slogans and the struggle to hang on peoples’ protests, President Klaus Iohannis has proved that he wants to install ‘as soon as possible” his own government.
“You’ve heard the Romanian President’s message yesterday. Beyond slogans and his shot to hang on the peoples’ protests to renovate his credibility, I believe that one thing emerged clearly – the ardent wish of President Iohannis to install as soon as possible ‘My government’ again,” said Premier Grindeanu at the debates on the no-confidence motion.
In the beginning of his speech, Grindeanu wished to point out that although the no-confidence motion lodged by the Liberals represents a constitutional right, it has no object anymore.
“We have a budget that brings Romanians prosperity and development. We have all the necessary levers in place to implement the governing program the Romanians have voted for in December in an overwhelming majority. Today we meet again, one month since the installation of the current government. The Opposition filed a no-confidence motion. It is our colleagues’ constitutional right to do so, but I cannot help remarking that this move has no longer an object,” Grindeanu said in his address in Parliament occasioned by debates on the motion.
He added that he had expected a “professional approach” from the National Liberal Party since this is about “serious matters”.
“First of all, I expected a professional approach of PNL when it comes about serious matters, but hey sent Catalin Predoiu to support the motion, a former Justice Minister, who coordinated the drafting of the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code which CCR amended through numerous decisions”, PM continued, also mentioning that no GEO on the pardon has ever been taken into account.
“I think somebody with more credibility could have supported this motion”, he stated.
As for the USR parliamentarians who supported this approach, Grindeanu said that probably the lack of experience and the enthusiasm made them associate with a party which they vehemently criticized until recently.
“The aimed to save Romania by sleeping, otherwise I cannot understand how can you sleep in the Parliament when the budget is subject to debate. I hope Mr. Nicusor Dan has done his homework better, and today he knows what to say” Grindeanu said.
“Iohannis is clinging to the Romanians’ protests to restore his credibility”
“You’ve heard the Romanian President’s speech of yesterday. Beyond slogans and the attempt to cling to the Romanians’ protests to restore his credibility, I think one thing has been pretty clearly revealed – President Iohannis’s yearning for restoring My Government as quickly as possible”, Sorin Grindeanu stated.
He also said that the Ciolos Government will be remembered as “The Zero Government”.
“I believe we have a duty towards people’s trust we earned at polls, and we must continue to assume the government of this country. Please do not accept this game and do not fall again into this trap. I hope today we will be able to clarify things and to go back to work” PM Grindeanu Added.
“I will accept any criticism if it relies on arguments, but I will not accept the hatred poured on the family and children”
“Beyond the government program, which is a priority, we cannot ignore the events that happened in Romania in the last days” Grindeanu admitted.
“I watched the protests for several nights in a row, from inside the government offices. I think that the Romanians (…) who took to the streets are perfectly entitled to shout their discontent if they feel so. (…) I publicly express my appreciation for the impeccable way the Romanian gendarmes have done their duty these days. We have all seen that most of the time the people felt protected and safe. (…) These days we also witnessed a lot of creativity on the signs in the people’s hands, in the slogans they chanted, as well as on Facebook. I had the opportunity to read a plethora of comments and messages, some of support, others obviously negative. I will always appreciate any criticism provided that it is backed arguments, but I will never accept an outpouring of hate against families and children,” stated the Prime Minister.
“I’ve also seen a lot of creativity these days, both on placards, in the yelled slogans and on Facebook. I had the opportunity to read a lot of comments and messages. Some of them were supporting messages, others were, obviously, negative. I will always accept any criticism, if it relies on arguments. But I will not accept the hatred poured on the family and children”, Grindeanu pointed out.
He went on to say that the politicians have a duty “to harmonize” views coming from the society and bring them to a “common denominator”.
“I was expecting President Iohannis’ speech the other day to tap in this direction, because things have indeed gone too far. We all have spouses, parents or children who came to hurl harsh words at each other these days. I heard someone say that the parents are protesting in front of the Cotroceni Palace, while their children rally against the government in Victoriei Square. I cannot accept the country’s division. This must stop. This is not normal,” Grindeanu said, pleading for families to peacefully reunite and spend pleasant time together, the way they do around the Christmas dinner table. “This is normal Romania and I think this is the message that any responsible politician must give. Not hatred, but reason and dialogue must prevail,” Grindeanu concluded.
PSD’s Dragnea: Censure motion- hypocrite, a useless one, a footnote of weak and malicious speech delivered by President Iohannis
Speaker of the Deputies’ Chamber and leader of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) Liviu Dragnea stated on Wednesday that the censure motion lodged in Parliament by the National Liberal Party (PNL) and the Save Romania Union (USR) is just a malicious footnote of President Klaus Iohannis’ speech.
“I admit that I expected more wisdom in these difficult moments, at least from the politicians of the PNL, giving it is a party with history and tradition. I, as well as you, find that we were wrong. The PNL and the USR, alongside President Iohannis, seem only interested to quickly regain a poor political capital, however assuming the risk to divide Romania. You filed a political motion, a hypocrite, useless one, which expresses, more exasperating, the dissatisfaction of losing the elections. When will you understand that you lost the elections? This censure motion is nothing but a footnote to the weak and malicious speech delivered yesterday by President Klaus Iohannis. The fact that entire parties are placed again at the trailer of a single man, should worry us, but we will get used to it. It isn’t the first time when the PSD is ruling in hostility conditions. I ask you: why the PNL and the USR lodged this motion? So that the Grindeanu Government won’t raise wages, so it won’t pay pensions or adopt all those measures that Romanians votes and which can make their life better?,” Liviu Dragnea stated in the joint plenary meeting of Parliament, in the censure motion debate.
Dragnea’s message to the Opposition: Take care what you wish! This Government wants to govern, let the Government govern!
PSD President also stated on Wednesday, at the debate of the censure motion filed by PNL and USR, that the document refers to a matter on which the Government bounced back, since the ministers understood the message sent by the people in the street, which is the reason for which they will also take other measures in order to end “an unwanted conflict” caused by the “poor communication”. He also addressed to the Opposition: Take care what you wish! This Government wants to govern, let the Government govern!”
“I wonder why they filed this motion? Not to let it increase pensions and salaries? This Government has done for Romanians, in one month, more than Ciolos did in one year. What you are doing increases the risks for Romania and can condemn it to instability. Take care what you wish! This Government wants to govern, let the Government govern” Liviu Dragnea stated at the debate of the censure motion.
The President of the Deputies’ Chamber said that the Government has understood the message sent by the people in the street, which is the reason for which it will also take other decisions.
“The motion refers to a matter on which the Government has already bounced back. The Government has understood the message sent by the people in the street and it decided to withdraw the GEO amending the Criminal Codes. The Government will also take other measures to end an unwanted conflict caused by the poor communication on this matter” added the PSD leader.
Tariceanu criticises PNL for reaction to GEO no. 13, comparing it to attitude shown toward political prisoners
Senate Speaker and Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) Co-President Calin Popescu Tariceanu stated on Wednesday in Parliament that PNL’s attitude toward government emergency ordinance (GEO) no.13 left him with “a bitter taste,” comparing it to the attitude seen during the Stalinist era when “political commissars” used to post themselves outside prisons where political prisoners were detained and shout “Death to them!”
“In the last months, in the United States, hundreds of thousands of Americans took to the streets: some in opposition to the new president, Donald Trump, others in his support. In recent years, similar protests took place in the United Kingdom, over Brexit, and in Germany. (…) It wouldn’t have been possible [otherwise] and, thus, we are having our own protests too. (…) It’s their right and I respect it,” Tariceanu said, news.ro informs.
However, he accused that PNL, USR and President Klaus Iohannis are politicising these protests and are provoking “an unprecedented crisis.”
“This [no-confidence] motion brings to the forefront one of the National Liberal Party’s obsessions: corruption. Dear Opposition parliamentarians, Romanians are asking us to eliminate corruption from three-letter agencies, just like they are asking us to eliminate corruption from the political class. The political class has started to reform itself. The three-letter agencies are refusing any reform,” Tariceanu said.
The ALDE Co-President gave Florian Coldea’s resignation as an example, as well as the DNA Chief Prosecutor’s “involvement” in the scandal, “as part of the SRI-DNA duo.” He also reiterated the accusations according to which President Iohannis “continues to refuse to pay back to the state hundreds of thousands of lei won by renting out a home that was obtained illegally, as established by a court ruling.”
“Other three-letter government agencies – DIICOT, ANI, ANAF – are involved in huge corruption scandals, with dossiers drafted by prosecutors, some bearing the certain traits of power struggle. Here is the main source of corruption in today’s Romania! Those appointed to temporarily lead three-letter agencies are exercising their power in a discretionary manner and are trying to control those elected by the people,” Tariceanu said.
He continued by drawing a parallel with a situation from the Stalinist era, stating that it offers “many ironies.”
“In 1947, the Sibiu City Hall conferred honorary citizenship to Andrei Vishinski, dubbed the ‘prosecutor of terror,’ the prosecutor whom Stalin had sent to sovietise Romania. The victim celebrated its executioner. Seventy years later, frozen by fear, the National Liberal Party is praising its executioner,” he said.
Tariceanu also criticised PNL for its reaction to OUG no.13, comparing it to the one shown toward political convicts during the Stalinist era.
“The way you reacted to the pardon laws left an extremely bitter taste. (…) Let me remind you how political commissars were behaving during the bleak period of the Stalinist era, showing up outside the prisons where political convicts were detained. You know what they were shouting? ‘Those in prisons are enemies and traitors, death to them,’” the Senate Speaker said.
PNL’s Turcan: The only solution is the urgent resignation of the whole Grindeanu Gov’t
The interim head of the National Liberal Party (PNL), Raluca Turcan, stated, on Wednesday, that the no-confidence motion is political censure against an unacceptable governing behaviour, arguing that “at night like thieves” has become the slogan of the Dragnea-Grindeanu-Tariceanu governance.
Raluca Turcan said that simply repealing OUG no.13 does not “expunge the sins” of Premier Sorin Grindeanu and of his Government, resignation being necessary for Romanians to regain their confidence in state institutions.
“You simulated your commitment to democratic values long enough. (…) The only correct solution for you – Dragnea, Tariceanu and Grindeanu – is for you and your whole abetter Government to urgently resign. Mr. Prime Minister Grindeanu, repealing the government emergency ordinance does not expunge your sins. Does not absolve you of responsibility. The political and moral guilt remains and, because of it, you must pay with your offices. It would be a gesture of minimal reparations for the ill you have caused Romania,” Turcan said.
“This no-confidence motion is political censure against an unacceptable governing behaviour in the EU. “At night like thieves” has become the slogan of the Dragnea-Grindeanu-Tariceanu governance. It is the slogan of an original democracy which the mentioned gentlemen are trying to install in Romania, a democracy repeated in a criminal key and which pretends that based on the popular vote anything is allowed: emergency ordinances custom-made for political cronies, demolition of institutions and other powers”, Turcan stated, at the debate in the Parliament on the no-confidence motion titled “Grindeanu Government – the Government of national contempt”.
According to Turcan, the members of Government forgot the population’s agenda and the country’s priorities, and passed laws that will “save” them and those “protected”.
According to her, in less than two months, Romania’s image abroad was destroyed.
She mentioned that people who took to the streets – at least half a million – sent a clear message that any electoral result is not an endorsement of abuse.
She told Prime Minister Grindeanu that the abrogation of Government Emergency Ordinance (OUG) no.13 does not “expunge his sins”, does not exempt him from responsibilities and he should pay with his position.
The PNL leader argued that the ordinances have caused a lot of tension and a lot despair, “especially to those who love Romania wholeheartedly.”
The PNL leader stated that “if he had respect for citizens” the Premier would have left “immediately” after repealing the “infamous ordinance” which was wiping away the crimes Liviu Dragnea was charged with.
Turcan pointed out such behaviour is among those which prompted many Romanians to leave the country, because the laws are not enforced or are enforced discriminatorily, and she invited the MPs to adopt the no-confidence motion in order to be “by the side of honest and industrious citizens.”
“Romanians did not vote you in office for you to save Mr. Dragnea,” Turcan added.
Predoiu to Grindeanu: GEO 13 was so transparent its Teleorman was visible. People were so determined, you have no nails left to bite
PNL First Vice President Catalin Predoiu responded to Premier Sorin Grindeanu, who talked about the amendments to the Criminal Codes adopted while the Liberal was Justice Minister, by explaining that those amendments were publicly and transparently discussed in Parliament, unlike government emergency ordinance (GEO) no.13, which was “so transparent that its Teleorman was visible.”
Predoiu went to the microphone immediately after Premier Sorin Grindeanu finished his speech, despite the fact that the Social Democrats had the right to give the first speech after the Prime Minister. The PNL Vice President however asked for the right to respond to the Premier’s statements, the Premier having mentioned in his speech the Codes that were tabled while Predoiu was Justice Minister, Codes whose stipulations were deemed unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court.
“Of the 15,000 paragraphs, a few were invalidated by the Constitutional Court. What you also don’t know is that very many of them were drafted here, within the Lower Chamber. (…) It’s a shame you are throwing our work, the judiciary’s work and Parliament’s work aside. The Codes were one of the few projects that came to fruition in Romania. Unlike the ordinance of shame, the Codes were debated here in Parliament, within the committees,” Predoiu said.
He reacted sarcastically to Premier Sorin Grindeanu’s statement concerning the transparency he wants within the Government.
“The ordinance of shame was so transparent that its Teleorman was visible, and the people were so determined that you have no nails left to bite, gentlemen,” he said.
Kelemen Hunor: Today, UDMR MPs will abstain from voting. Real concern is not the Grindeanu Government but whether we have rule of law
UDMR President Kelemen Hunor stated on Wednesday, at the debate on the no-confidence motion which the Opposition filed against the Grindeanu Government, that the real concern has to do not with the Cabinet’s fate but with the question whether rule of law exists in Romania or not.
“For us, at this moment, the essential preoccupation is not the fate of the Grindeanu Government, it’s not whether this Government still has a majority or not less than 2 months since parliamentary elections. Our real preoccupation and the question I raise is whether in today’s Romania there is a real separation of powers or whether this separation is just a fiction,” Kelemen said.
“My answer is as clear as possible and I’m telling you with profound sadness: it is increasingly hard to say whether the rule of law exists in Romania. For years now we can no longer talk about rule of law,” Kelemen added.
He pointed out that there is a reasonable presumption that the judiciary’s decisions were influenced in some cases, just as there is a clear certainty that fundamental human rights were affected in Romania because of the institutions’ lack of transparency.
Kelemen pointed out that UDMR MPs will abstain from voting.
“What will happen with the Grindeanu Government no longer has special importance. Following all of the Government’s mistakes, one cannot vote with a clear conscience for the motion or against the motion,” the UDMR President said.
Traian Basescu: My party and I will vote against Grindeanu Gov’t
With just four minutes allocated for his statements on the no-confidence motion, Popular Movement Party (PMP) President Traian Basescu asked PSD President Liviu Dragnea for more time, asking for it to be allocated from the Social Democrats’ time slot if possible. In reply, the Lower Chamber Speaker stated laughingly that only in Romania “could someone swear at you while using your time slot.”
According to the Regulations, each parliamentary group had 10 seconds allocated for each of its MPs at the debates on the no-confidence motion. Consequently, PMP had a four-minute time slot, but Traian Basescu asked for more time because he wanted to cite documents.
“Ladies and gentlemen MPs, for those of you who may not know me, I was minister in five governments, I won the Bucharest City Hall twice and I was president for around ten years. The President of all. (…) I apologise, but I’ll offer a lot of quotes. If Mr. Speaker [Liviu Dragnea] would like to allocate a bit more time, in excess of the four minutes,” Basescu said, smiling toward Liviu Dragnea.
The PSD President immediately answered: “Mr. President, look over there, PSD has 17:59 minutes left.”
“Thank you! So, are they offering all of them to me?” Basescu smiling replied. “Not quite all of them,” the PSD President replied.
At the end of a 10-minute speech, Traian Basescu thanked those present for their patience. “Mr. ayatollah, thank you for the time,” he told Dragnea. In an older statement, Basescu had called the PSD President the “ayatollah” from Kiseleff.
The Lower Chamber Speaker started laughing and replied: “Mr. President, Mr. President! Only in Romania could someone swear at you while using your time slot,” according to news.ro.
The PMP leader returned to the rostrum with another quip: “Yes, and only in Romania could an ayatollah be Orthodox [Christian].”
Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu jumped in too: “I told Dragnea not to offer you their time, because you’d end up questioning them on their time slot.”
In his speech, Traian Basescu said that although he opposes the Criminal Code’s definition of abuse of office, he will vote against the Grindeanu Government because they did not know how to properly explain beforehand why the Criminal Code must be amended that way and because Sorin Grindeanu is not behaving like a Prime Minister, allowing himself to be controlled by PSD President Liviu Dragnea instead.
His proposal was for the Constitutional Court decision regarding the Criminal Code to be implemented through laws voted by Parliament, not through government ordinances.
“I have a proposal regarding political action: good people, we have an emergency ordinance from Ms. Pruna and one from Mr. Iordache. I propose that we, parliamentarians, reject them both and Parliament undertakes to carry out the modification concerning the unconstitutionality of the Criminal Code articles,” Basescu added.
Basescu: “No more than 100 abuse of office cases in the other EU states, while in Romania the DNA is handling 2,700”
Ex-President Traian Basescu asked Lower Chamber Speaker Liviu Dragnea on Wednesday whether he is “toning it down” because he knows he has an abuse of office dossier, Dragnea replying that he is not and that that is why this is happening.
“And my worry is that the definition of Article 297 of the Criminal Code can become an instrument to put politicians under control. When you know you have an abuse of office dossier, do you tone it down, Mr. Dragnea?” Basescu said at the debate on the no-confidence motion filed against the Grindeanu Government.
“It’s not the case for me, Mr. President. That is why this is happening,” Dragnea replied.
“So, we must be careful with our freedom to do politics and we shouldn’t create instruments that would allow abuse,” Basescu added.
He added that all other EU states have no more than 100 abuse of office cases on the docks, while in Romania the DNA is working on 2,700 abuse of office cases.
“We are finding out from her [Laura Codruta Kovesi’s] statements that the DNA is working on 2,700 abuse of office cases, apart from those already in court, apart from those already convicted and so forth. Do you know what that means? Combine abuse of power and abuse of office in all [other] EU states and I don’t know if you’ll find 100 such cases in courts,” Basescu added.
Nicusor Dan to PSD: You must choose between being on the right side of history and following a poor man who has two criminal dossiers
Save Romania Union (USR) President Nicusor Dan stated at the debate on the no-confidence motion that the decision the MPs will take, on whether to topple the Grindeanu Government or not, will be judged by history and the ruling coalition MPs must choose between being on the right side of history and following “a poor man who has two criminal dossiers.”
“Your voters sent you to Parliament to pass laws for the well-being of Romanians, not laws that would get criminals out of jail. The real author of this crisis, Liviu Dragnea, would be capable of blowing up Romania just to get rid of his criminal dossiers. Today you must choose between being on the right side of history and following a man, a poor man who has two criminal dossiers. Your decision will be judged by history,” Nicusor Dan told the ruling coalition MPs.
The USR President emphasised in his speech that the Government crossed red lines that should not be crossed by adopting an emergency ordinance decriminalising certain crimes, and accused PSD of seeking to put Romania at its mercy, losing the people’s confidence as a result.
“This Government crossed the red line. There are limits that should not be crossed, and this Government crossed such a limit. There were years when public funds in Romania were embezzled and nobody was made accountable for that. With much effort, our society succeeded in creating a mechanism through which people who fail are made accountable. What the Grindeanu Government did, at 1:00 a.m., was an attempt to erase the whole effort and put Romania back at its mercy. Because of this, it lost [people’s] confidence. We all know that it was not Mr Grindeanu who initiated this ordinance. We all know that Mr Liviu Dragnea, who has a criminal file, who has a criminal conviction, put pressure on Mr Grindeanu. But, Mr Grindeanu had all the means to oppose it. He did not do it, he was a coward. He put the interests of the party’s president before the country’s interests and for that he lost [the people’s] confidence,” the leader of USR stated in the joint plenary meeting of Parliament, at the debate on the no-confidence motion.
Dan added that the national security of Romania as well as its economic development are also hinged on confidence in the Government.
He deemed that Prime Minister Grindeanu lost the people’s and foreign chancelleries’ confidence, which will affect Romania’s national security as well as the country’s economy.
“This is one of the moments in which the decision we will take will be judged by history, by our children and grandchildren. In all critical moments, the street was on the right side of history. In the  Revolution, in the protests in University Square and those against the Rosia Montana [mining] project, the street was right. Hundreds of thousands of people who protested or are protesting are right and we must be grateful to them that they managed to remove the Government’s huge irresponsibility,” Nicusor Dan added, being applauded by PNL and USR MPs.