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News 29 Dec 16

Romania's Social Democrats Nominate New PM

Romania's Social Democrat Party has nominated former Telecom Minister Sorin Grindeanu to become Prime Minister, after President Klaus Iohannis rejected the first proposal, Sevil Shhaide.

Ana Maria Touma
BIRN
Bucharest
Romanian Social Democrat Party, PSD, chair Liviu Dragnea. Photo: Partidul Social Democrat/Flickr

The head of the Romanian Social Democratic Party, PSD, Liviu Dragnea on Wednesday named former minister Sorin Grindeanu as the party's new candidate for the post of Prime Minister.

President Klaus Iohannis on Tuesday rejected the PSD's first nomination, Sevil Shhaideh, a 52-year-old Muslim woman from the Tatar minority, without clarifying the reasons.

Media reports suggested her Syrian husband - a supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad - might pose a risk to Romania's security.

Grindeanu, 43, has a degree in computer science, was Telecom Minister in Victor Ponta’s former government and is currently head of Timis County Council in western Romania.

He has been a PSD member for 20 years, was elected as an MP in 2012, but he resigned in 2016 to run in the local elections.

Dragnea's party triumphed in the country's recent general elections, which is why his party has the right to nominate the next Prime Minister.

He  initially stuck by to his first option for the post and even warned that the President risked being suspected from office for rejecting her.

However, Shhaideh refused to continue as a candidate because her family had reportedly received threats.

“They can’t even go out of the house,” Dragnea said, adding that she had asked him to change his proposal for Prime Minister.

Dragnea, who had made no secret of wanting the post for himself, cannot serve because of a two-year suspended jail sentence for trying to rig a referendum in 2012.

“We had to find a solution and appoint a colleague who is loyal to the party and to our government program," Dragnea said.

“[Grindeanu] is not a Hezbollah agent, he’s not Hamas either. Maybe they will find out he was in the KGB or that he killed someone,” the PSD chair said, hinting at some of the wilder accusations Shhaideh and her husband had faced.

 “It’s a great responsibility and I feel this responsibility on my shoulders,” Grindeanu told a press conference with Dragnea.

The head of PSD said that if Iohannis also refuses to appoint Grindeanu, the PSD and its junior ally, ALDE, would start a procedure to suspend him. Such a move would need the approval of parliament and a referendum, however.

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