PSD’s National Executive Committee (NatExCom) convened on Thursday afternoon, the validation of the list of ministers to be replaced being on its agenda.
Premier Mihai Tudose was stating that three ministers with legal problems of a criminal nature were in the crosshairs – Sevil Shhaideh, Rovana Plumb and Viorel Ilie – but also at least two other members of Cabinet, rumoured to be Transport Minister Razvan Cuc, Business Environment Minister Ilan Laufer, and Health Minister Florian Bodog. Before PSD’s meeting, ALDE nevertheless decided to reconfirm its endorsement of Viorel Ilie, Calin Popescu Tariceanu stating that “DNA cannot form the Romanian Government as it wishes.”
PSD meeting transcripts
According to transcripts that started to circulate in the press while PSD’s very tense Executive Committee meeting was ongoing, PSD President Liviu Dragnea stated at the meeting that the party risks imploding and took part of the responsibility for the situation.
“We’ve reached a tense situation, because of several people, but because of my fault too. It was poorly managed communication, both on my part and on the Government’s part, we’ve entered a spiral of suspicion and distrust, which has put Mihai (the Prime Minister Mihai Tudose – editor’s note) in a state of maximum tension. I cared and continue to care for Mihai. I take responsibility for the state of anger and tension Mihai has reached, because of my fault too.
The PSD national leader addressed then to the ministers: “I welcomed each of you with pleasure, every time. But some [of you] were meeting me and we were discussing some decisions, after which they were going to Mihai and were telling him I said they shouldn’t be carried out. Governing must be managed by the Government”.
“I believe we must return to the atmosphere we had in 2015, back when we were comrades and friends. Like that we will win, we will be able to manage a governance platform that is already generating effects. We are heading toward 6 percent economic growth. It can be done! The third time around I won’t be going to Iohannis again.
“I know each of you. We risk ending up in a situation in which we kill ourselves via implosion. We must cease,” Liviu Dragnea said.
Liviu Dragnea and Mihai Tudose meet at PSD HQ in Baneasa ahead of National ExCom meeting
PSD President Liviu Dragnea and Prime Minister Mihai Tudose met at the party’s headquarters in Baneasa ahead of PSD’s National Executive Committee (NatExCom) meeting.
According to Social Democratic sources, apart from the Premier and Party President Dragnea, other party leaders also stopped by at the headquarters in Baneasa.
Tudose ahead of PSD meeting: I’ll resign anytime the party asks me to
“I’ll resign anytime the party asks me to,” this was the Premier’s only statement when arriving at the PSD headquarters. He had been asked whether he is willing to resign if the dismissal of the ministers he nominated is not accepted.
Before the NatExCom meeting, European Grants Minister Rovana Plumb said that the office was entrusted to her by the party, so she will express her point of view within the party. Asked about the way she is perceived in Brussels, a reason invoked by Premier Tudose, Rovana Plumb said all her overtures in Brussels were successful and she was even congratulated by the European Commission.
“I’m a party person, the office of minister was entrusted to me by the party, consequently my position will be expressed within the party’s Executive Committee. The stability of the country and the implementation of the governance platform is important. My colleagues and I, we are not aware of there being problems in Brussels; all overtures in Brussels were successful and it is clearly seen in the results [registered] in the absorption of European grants,” Rovana Plumb, one of the ministers that may be reshuffled – according to the Premier’s statements –, said.
She claimed that during this period she had several meetings with European Commission representatives, that progress was made and she received congratulations from Brussels.
“I unblocked the European grants for Romania, I processed declarations of payments, I accelerated the contracting rhythm, all in a very brief period, at an alert rhythm,” Rovana Plumb said.
In her turn, Ecaterina Andronescu said she first wants to find out why PSD ended up in this situation.
Asked whether the Premier’s resignation is to be avoided, Andronescu said: “Reaching this point was to be avoided.”
Moreover, Minister Mihai Fifor said, when entering the PSD meeting, that he is optimistic and convinced solutions will be found.
Firea attacks Tudose: Grievances and bitterness are aired within the party, not on televised shows
On Thursday, ahead of PSD’s NatExCom meeting, PSD Vice President Gabriela Firea criticised Premier Mihai Tudose – who had stated on television that he wants to carry out a Government reshuffle –, pointing out that grievances and bitterness are aired within the party, not on televised shows.
“Any colleague who has a grievance or is bitter, I believe he must first state it within the party’s leadership bodies, and not on televised shows. I too have grievances and each time I’ve stated them within the statutory bodies and I didn’t go on shows to say what I had to say and what must be fixed and corrected within the party,” Firea said.
Asked whether the Government reshuffle is the Premier’s right, Firea replied: “In everything related to the activity of Parliament, Government and of the other administrative structures, the said entities’ leaders certainly have a point of view, but, when we’re talking about offices obtained with the endorsement of the party that won the elections, the party’s opinion is very important, no matter how much we were to believe we ended up in office only thanks to personal charisma or qualities we’ve gained in the meantime.”
She admitted that PSD is in “a critical point.” “We’re in a critical point. I believe it’s not fair and it’s not an honest approach for one of our colleagues to announce on television what he intends to do. I’m now talking about some principles, not about my vote within the Executive Committee. I would like to see on the part of us all more responsibility, a more adequate focus on the needs of Romanians, and all these grievances, possible frustrations, must be first aired within the leadership bodies, and not in the public space, because after all they only serve to strengthen the Opposition, to draw water to the mill of our critics and to weaken the party – something we don’t want. (…) How could we deal with the governance platform if we pay more attention to opinion polls and other aspects that I consider derisory?” Firea added.
She pointed out that PSD won the elections and it is normal for it to continue to govern.
PSD Secretary General: Prime Minister’s resignation is “possibility taken into account”
PSD Secretary General Marian Neacsu stated on Thursday that PSD’s Executive Committee meeting will feature “very serious discussions” about the path the party must take, pointing out that giving up on governing is not a current scenario for PSD.
“At this moment no decision has been taken. There will be very serious and very applied talks within the NatExCom, on the path the party must take,” Neacsu stated ahead of the meeting at the PSD headquarters.
Asked whether giving up on governing is a current scenario for PSD, Neacsu answered negatively. “No, it’s not a scenario within PSD. Obviously, depending on the decision we take here, we’ll see what’s to be done,” he said.
In his opinion, there is no need for a new no-confidence motion against the Government, but admitted that the Prime Minister’s resignation is “a possibility taken into account” following Premier Tudose’s public statements.
“Based on what I understood from what he has publicly stated so far, this is also a possibility worthy of taking into account. (…) I believe we must treat this problem with a lot of calm and a lot of responsibility,” Marian Neacsu added.
Referring to the message that President Iohannis issued on Thursday, Neacsu said that the Head of State “noted the fact that PSD won the elections a year ago, elections won legitimately, and that normally the Premier, if the issue will be raised this way, should be from PSD too.”
“At this moment, like always before, the country’s stability, the governance platform and what we committed ourselves to doing is more important for PSD. (…) I believe it’s good also for the Prime Minister to think about this. If the idea of a resignation continues to stand, of course this can lead to instability,” Marian Neacsu concluded.
ALDE’s Tariceanu: It’s PM’s right to propose reshuffle of a minister
The ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats) leader, Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, on Thursday stated that it is Prime Minister Mihai Tudose’s right to propose the removal of a minister, when he thinks it necessary, while the party he leads “won’t accept the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA) to form the Romanian Government as it pleases”, as he insisted.
He showed that the ALDE leaders discussed on Thursday about the need for the party to continue to state its “wish to maintain the current governmental coalition”, in order to secure the “political stability.”
Tariceanu also specified that, during the meeting of ALDE leaders, they also discussed the recent statements made by PM Tudose in respect to the need of a governmental reshuffle.
“He spoke about the need of a government reshuffle and, at the same time, he presented two types of arguments, but, before this, I have to tell you that it is the Prime Minister’s right, based on the analyses he makes, to propose, if necessary, a government reshuffle. (…) Of course that it is preferable we do not learn about this from the media and that we should have discussed it before inside the coalition that ensures the parliamentary support of the government. But, besides this, the two motives that the Prime Minister gave were related to competencies and performance and I fully understand them,” said the ALDE leader.
He also mentioned that the second set of motives invoked by the Prime Minister for the reshuffle are practically related to the “the DNA’s action to (…) initiate a series of investigations against some of the government members.”
He added that ALDE took a decision two weeks ago to maintain its political support for Minister for Relations with Parliament Viorel Ilie..
ALDE still endorses Minister Viorel Ilie: We can’t accept the DNA forming Romania’s Gov’t
Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) President Calin Popescu Tariceanu announced on Thursday at the end of the party’s meeting that ALDE will not give up on Minister for Liaison with Parliament Viorel Ilie, and will continue to endorse him, arguing that it cannot accept “the DNA forming the Government of Romania.” He added he will inform Premier Mihai Tudose, who will have to take into account the arguments he will present.
“We cannot accept the DNA forming the Government of Romania, as it suits its convenience. Consequently, two weeks ago we decided that ALDE would maintain its endorsement for Viorel Ilie. We disagree with him considering resigning. Moreover, in the Senate there was a vote rejecting the DNA’s request to criminally prosecute Viorel Ilie, so there is no kind of argument. Moreover, in the case of the two members of Government (Sevil Shhaideh and Rovana Plumb – editor’s note), the Premier invoked that they are working with EU funds and inconvenience is created in Brussels. (…) I have doubts in their case too. (…) In the case of Minister Viorel Ilie, this argument cannot stand either. Consequently, we maintain our stance and I’ll communicate it to the Premier, and we’ll see what we’ll do next,” Tariceanu stated at the end of an ALDE meeting that lasted almost two hours.
Minister Viorel Ilie is suspected of instigating the use, direct or indirect, of information not meant to be publicly disclosed, or of allowing unauthorised persons to access that information, while exercising his ministerial office. According to DNA prosecutors, the minister is suspected – alongside three ministry employees – of “rigging” a competition for the employment of civil servants on contract-based positions, in order for certain candidates favoured by the ministry’s leadership to secure the positions at the expense of others. On August 25, the DNA asked the Prosecutor General to lodge with the Senate a request to lift the immunity of Viorel Ilie in order to allow the start of criminal prosecution. The Senate voted to reject the request.