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News 21 Dec 16

Muslim Woman Eyes PM’s Post in Romania

After President Klaus Iohannis refused to accept the Social Democrat leader Liviu Dragnea as head of the government, the party has put forward Sevil Shhaideh, 52, a former minister.

Ana Maria Touma
BIRN
Bucharest
Sevil Shhaideh. Photo: Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration of Romania

The head of Romania’s Social Democratic Party, PSD, Liviu Dragnea, which won the December 11 legislative elections, announced on Wednesday after consultations with President Klaus Iohannis that he would no longer eye the prime minister’s position in order to avoid further political skirmishes.

In a deal with the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats, ALDE, to form the new government, he party has instead nominated a Muslim woman, the former Minister for Regional Development Sevil Shhaideh, 52.

“The PSD won the elections and this makes me entitled to the position of Prime Minister. But I don’t want to start a useless conflict,” Dragnea said after the meeting with the President. “Yes, she is nominated for PM, he said about Shhaideh, but the political responsibility lies with me.”

Shhaideh, a Muslim married to a Syrian businessman and also a close collaborator with Dragnea - who attended her wedding - served briefly in 2015 as Minister of Regional Development and Public Administration. She has been a PSD member since July 2015.

She comes from Romania’s small ethnic Turkish minority, was the first Muslim woman to become a government minister in Romania and is the first ever to be nominated for the PM’s post.

Iohannis is set to nominate the new Prime Minister on Thursday, after consultations with all parliamentary factions end.

However, after the second largest political party, the Liberals, announced that they would not come up with an alternative candidate and would remain the main opposition group, Shhaideh is the only nominee.

Dragnea, 54, had previously hinted that he would be the main candidate for the Prime Minister’s post but President Iohannis said he would not accept a nominee who had been sentenced or even investigated for graft.

Dragnea has a two-year suspended jail sentence for trying to rig a referendum in 2012.

He said that he had not given up his dream of becoming Prime Minister one day, and hinted that the law that prevents him from becoming PM might be amended in the near future.

The PSD and ALDE hold 250 of the 465 seats in Romania’s bicameral parliament. 

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