The Social Democratic Party’s (PSD) National Executive Committee (NatExCom) was convened on Wednesday, in Bucharest, to discuss the nomination of the new Justice and Business Environment ministers, as well as the censuring of PSD Iasi interim president Mihai Chirica for the public criticism he levelled against the party’s leadership.
At the same time, before the NatExCom meeting, the PSD-ALDE ruling coalition met to pick the two new ministers that were then presented to the NatExCom for political confirmation.
The most awaited nomination was for the Justice Minister’s office, against the backdrop in which the management of this portfolio seems to be extremely difficult after Florin Iordache resigned as a result of the pressure put on him by the large street protests against the government emergency ordinance that would have amended the Criminal Codes.
Lately, there has been a lot of public talk about the possibility that the new minister would no longer be a party member, talk based on a public statement made by Premier Grindeanu in Brussels.
On his return home, PM Grindeanu nuanced his statement, pointing out that the possibility of a Justice Minister without political affiliation was just a working option.
Moreover, National Union of Romanian Judges (UNJR) President Dana Girbovan, with whom Premier Grindeanu publicly confirmed he had talks on taking over the Justice Minister’s office, announced she would not be the nominee, pointing out that, as a judge, she cannot hold this office.
The press speculated that Grindeanu’s change of discourse shows that a series of “tensions” or “frictions” appeared between him and PSD President Liviu Dragnea, the latter being the one who insisted on the future minister being apolitical, this being his public stance before Florin Iordache was nominated for this portfolio too.
Another dispute was generated by those who are taking credit for the nomination. Thus, while PSD President Liviu Dragnea recently stated that Premier Grindeanu bears the responsibility of the nomination, he later nuanced his statement, pointing out that Premier Grindeanu has come up with some nominations, but PSD and the ruling coalition have come up with several others.
“Premier Grindeanu thought about some options, we thought about some options [too], a very important meeting will take place on Wednesday,” Dragnea said.
Another important point of the ruling coalition meeting that preceded Wednesday’s NatExCom meeting could be the talk of a possible Government reshuffling.
PSD leader Liviu Dragnea made this statement too, pointing out however that Grindeanu is reluctant to come before Parliament for another confirmation, considering that in the past month he showed before Parliament for the confirmation of the Government, the 2017 budget and the no-confidence motion.
Also discussed recently was PSD possibly ceding the Justice Ministry to their ALDE coalition partners, this being speculated after Premier Grindeanu said that the future minister will be a “member of the ruling coalition,” without pointing out specifically whether he/she will be member of PSD, the coalition member who holds the Justice Ministry portfolio.
On the other hand, PSD and ALDE recently signed a protocol which specifically stipulates the way in which political decisions are taken within the coalition, which have to be undersigned by all three party presidents – Liviu Dragnea, Calin Popescu-Tariceanu and Daniel Constantin – which gives ALDE a say in the appointment of the future Justice Minister.
Apart from the nomination of the Justice Minister, PSD’s NatExCom meeting’s agenda on Wednesday also included the confirmation of a new Business and Entrepreneurship Minister, the previous holder of this portfolio resigning as a result of the large protests against the government emergency ordinance concerning criminal law.
PSD also had to clarify the internal party tensions generated by the public criticism levelled against PSD leader Liviu Dragnea, concerning the way he chose to manage the party against the backdrop of the demonstrations.
PSD Iasi interim president Mihai Chirica stood out as the “spearhead” of the public attacks on Liviu Dragnea.
PSD leader Liviu Dragnea reacted insidiously, working on a strategy through which he garnered the outright support of the party’s county branches.
Thus, recently, a substantial number of party branches convened county-level executive committees, adopting three resolutions which they made public: a resolution of political support for Liviu Dragnea in his capacity as party president, a resolution of support for the PSD-ALDE Government led by Sorin Grindeanu, and a resolution asking the NatExCom to kick Mihai Chirica out of the party.
Dragnea subsequently stated he does not want to raise the issue of Mihai Chirica’s party membership at the NatExCom meeting, but explicitly mentioned the support he enjoys at county level, including within the PSD Iasi branch, where around 60 mayors distanced themselves from Chirica. Likewise, Dragnea talked about “moles” that infiltrated the party, are “playing into Iohannis’s hands” and will be “kept for conservation breeding.”
Chirica: I’ll explain PSD leaders I’m not out-of-sync with the party; I brought a new tone, a normal and European breath
Iasi Mayor Mihai Chirica stated on Wednesday, before PSD’s NatExCom meeting in which sanctions against him were about to be discussed, that he did not believe a cancellation of his party membership would be “suitable,” because he is not out-of-sync with the party but instead brought a “normal, European breath” with his statements.
“Exclusion is a manner less suitable for today’s Romania. Usually it should come from within the party branch you are a member of. I will have to explain to them I’m not out-of-sync with PSD. On the contrary, I believe I managed to bring a new tone, a normal, European breath within PSD,” the mayor said on his way to the NatExCom meeting.
Regarding the party branches that publicly asked for his party membership to be rescinded, Chirica said that more relevant is the position adopted by Premier Sorin Grindeanu and the Timis County branch, which did not express themselves in favour of sanctions.
Chirica also denied the rumours according to which he would like to be kicked out of the party in order to join PNL.
“Nobody infiltrated me. (…) It was indeed a KGB diversion, which could somehow justify some party colleagues demanding my exclusion. It’s a lie,” he said.
PSD President Liviu Dragnea stated on Sunday, for RomaniaTV, that the party would adopt a wise but “firm” decision on Wednesday regarding Iasi Mayor Mihai Chirica, who has lately been critical of the party.
“We haven’t talked. Since he saw fit to communicate through the press, I didn’t want to compete with it. (…) Although he is interim president in Iasi and PSD Vice President, he attended only four NatExCom and BPN [Standing Political Bureau] meetings. It’s very difficult to communicate in Iasi. The Iasi branch has distanced itself from him through the signature of all mayors, all branches have distanced themselves from him,” Dragnea said.
Asked what sanctions does Mihai Chirica risk, the PSD leader said that the range of sanctions is considerable and he is not the fan of very harsh sanctions.
“I’m not the fan of very harsh measures. The range is very large, a minimum sanction or a maximum sanction can be adopted. On Wednesday, we will take a wise but firm decision,” Dragnea announced at that moment.
Tariceanu: PSD’s nominations for Justice and Business Environment, very good; I’m still convinced politically-affiliated ministers are needed
On Wednesday, at the end of the ruling coalition meeting, Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) Co-President Calin Popescu Tariceanu stated that PSD’s nominations for the Justice Ministry and the Business Environment Ministry are very good, considering the “tensions that dominated the public space,” although he is still convinced that a political Government must “exclusively” have politically-affiliated ministers.
“We had a ruling coalition meeting. We discussed with our colleagues the nominations that will be made, however, bearing in mind that PSD will have its Executive Committee [meeting], in which these nominations will be approved, you must wait for their and the Prime Minister’s political decision to find out the names. What I can tell you is that we found the nominations presented to us to be some very good nominations,” Calin Popescu Tariceanu stated.
He claimed that he continues to believe that a political Government must “exclusively” have politically-affiliated ministers.
“I maintain my conviction that a political Government must exclusively have politically-affiliated ministers. But the solution that PSD proposed seems to me at this moment a good solution for solving the problem, also considering the tensions that dominated the public space, the political crisis we went through. I believe it’s a good choice,” the ALDE Co-President added.
Birchall: A very good choice for Justice Ministry portfolio
Interim Justice Minister Ana Birchall stated on Wednesday that the PSD leadership’s choice for the Justice Ministry portfolio will be a “very good” one.
“Let’s wait and see what the party’s leadership decides and you should know it’s going to be a very good decision. I’m proud that, during this period, I assured a very good interim leadership and I assured exactly what I planned to assure from the start – a good administrative management of the ministry’s current problems,” Birchall said before PSD’s NatExCom meeting, when asked whether Tudorel Toader is a good nomination for the Justice Ministry portfolio.
Prosecutor General on the new nomination for the Justice: I have a good opinion on a professional professor
Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar stated on Wednesday, at Iasi, when asked about the possible nomination of Tudorel Toader, the Rector of the “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University, for the Justice Minister, that “he has a good opinion” about him as a “professional professor”.
“It’s not an official appointment, I have a good opinion about a professional professor. I don’t want to make other statements since Mr. Toader wasn’t officially appointed” stated the Prosecutor General, according to Agerpres.
PSD’s National Executive Committee validates new ministers
As initially announced, PSD’s National Executive Committee meeting validated the nominations for the Justice Ministry and the Business Environment Ministry. However, several other important changes to the Grindeanu Government were made at the meeting, in the sense that new portfolio holders were announced at 4 ministries.
Thus, former Constitutional Court (CCR) judge Tudorel Toader (photo) will be the new Justice Minister, while Alexandru Petrescu, the current Economy Minister, will take over the Business Environment, Commerce and Entrepreneurship portfolio.
Rovana Plumb will be the new European Grants Minister, replacing Mihaela Virginia Toader, while Mihai Tudose will be the new Economy Minister, replacing Alexandru Petrescu.
Premier Sorin Grindeanu also took part in the meeting.
Tudorel Toader stated on Tuesday, for Mediafax, when asked about his possible nomination for the Justice Minister’s office, that the press should wait for Wednesday, when the Premier would be set to make the official nomination, confirming that he would travel to Bucharest on Wednesday.
PM Grindeanu: Four changes made to render Government’s activity efficient
At the end of PSD’s National Executive Committee (NatExCom) meeting, Premier Sorin Grindeanu announced the unanimous confirmation of the ministers he nominated and pointed out that the four changes were made to render the Government’s activity efficient: Tudorel Toader – Justice Ministry; Alexandru Petrescu – Business Environment Ministry; Rovana Plumb – European Grants Ministry; Mihai Tudose – Economy Ministry. Grindeanu pointed out that the change made at the European Grants Ministry is based on the fact that PSD considers this domain a priority.
“I thank my colleagues for unanimously confirming my nominations. There were daily consultations with the party’s leadership. I nominated Mr Tudorel Toader at the Justice Ministry, Alex Petrescu for SMEs, Rovana Plumb at European Grants. Economy Minister, Mihai Tudose. Mihaela Toader remains part of the team at the European Grants. I wanted to strengthen the team by co-opting a party member of importance and with experience. The nominations were unanimously confirmed within the National Executive Committee,” Grindeanu said. He also talked about new Justice Minister Tudorel Toader.
The Head of Government presented the arguments as to why he preferred to nominate Toader before the PSD-ALDE coalition’s leadership and PSD’s National Executive Committee.
“I considered that the experience he has in this domain – almost 10 years at the Constitutional Court, member of the Venice Commission, rector of the University of Iasi –, [he is] a personality that met my criteria when it came to picking a Justice Minister. (…) He was unanimously confirmed,” Grindeanu stated.
In what concerns the change made at the European Grants Ministry, Sorin Grindeanu pointed out that current European Grants Minister Mihaela Toader “remains in the team, is part of the team,” however the decision to replace her was prompted by what PSD considers to be a priority for the Government, namely the absorption of European grants.
“I wanted us to strengthen the team by co-opting a party member of importance,” Grindeanu emphasised.
Liviu Dragnea: Tudorel Toader won’t be asked to join the party
PSD President Liviu Dragnea stated on Wednesday, after the National Executive Committee meeting, that Tudorel Toader, nominated by the ruling coalition for the Justice Minister’s office, will not be asked to become a member of PSD.
“He won’t be asked to join the party,” Liviu Dragnea said when asked whether Tudorel Toader may become PSD member.
More than 1,400,000 signatures collected in support of Gov’t
Liviu Dragnea also announced on Wednesday that over 1.4 million signatures have been collected nationwide in support of the government and the governing program.
“The Secretary General informed us that the signature campaign we initiated some time ago has raised over 1.4 million signatures in support of the government and the governing program, and the action continues. I said some time ago that I don’t want PSD to organize a rally, we preferred to collect signatures through this campaign which will carry on. For us it is important, it’s quite a figure achieved in a rather difficult period,” Dragnea said at the end of the meeting of PSD’s National Executive Committee (CExN) at the Palace of Parliament.
At the meeting the PSD Secretary general also presented a report on resolutions unanimously adopted by the PSD county organizations.
The respective resolutions have three points: pledging “unconditional” support to the PSD leadership and to the party Chairman, support to PM Sorin Grindeanu and the Government of Romania and “a decision” in connection with the proposed sanctioning of Iasi mayor Mihai Chirica.
“The Premier presented the CExN a set of proposals to fill several positions in his Cabinet, seeking the organisation’s political and confidence vote,” Liviu Dragnea also said.
Iasi Mayor Mihai Chirica remains regular party member: “I was punished for telling the truth”
Mihai Chirica, PSD Vice President and interim president of PSD Iasi, was suspended from these two offices at PSD’s NatExCom meeting, but was not excluded from the party. He complained that party leader Liviu Dragnea was misinformed regarding his public statements.
“I’m disappointed with my colleague’s decisions. It’s a world’s first. The vote was unanimous in what concerns me. I’m disappointed that very many untrue things were said about my public statements. It was a move to misinform the party’s president. In what concerns my attack on PSD and on the Grindeanu Government, it never happened. In what concerns me, my political projects are those linked to PSD. The financing will have to come from the Romanian Government’s sources, or from European grants, depending on the projects’ quality. We are living in a rational country, we can’t be penalised for aspects related to political dissidence. I continue to feel a member of PSD. We’ll have to enlarge the framework of communication between Dragnea and I, to tell the truth. I was expecting this result, because things were discussed beforehand,” Chirica said at the end of the meeting.
He pointed out the vote was unanimous.
“I’m disappointed that very many untrue things were said about my public statements. It was a move to misinform the party’s president. In what concerns my attack on PSD and on the Grindeanu Government, it never happened,” the Iasi Mayor added.
He added that those who misinformed Liviu Dragnea were “many.”