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News 15 Jun 17

Romania's Ruling Party Set to Impeach Own Govt

Romania’s Social Democrats on Thursday agreed to submit an impeachment motion against Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu and exclude him from the party, as the defiant PM starts to recruit a new cabinet. 

Ana Maria Touma
BIRN
Bucharest
Romanian PM Sorin Grindeanu was excluded from the Social Democrat Party on Thursday, after refusing to resign from the government. Photo: Facebook.

Romania’s ruling Social Democrat Party leadership on Thursday decided to submit an impeachment motion in parliament against its own government and voted to exclude Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu from its ranks.

PSD sources told the media that both decisions were approved unanimously. The impeachment motion will most probably be filed on Monday and be discussed by parliament within the next two weeks.

“We don’t need to hold our breath regarding the majority in the parliament,” Calin Popescu Tariceanu, Senate Speaker and head of the Alliance of the Liberals and Democrats, ALDE, said after the decision was made.

For parliament to pass an impeachment motion, it needs at least 233 votes. The Social Democrats and ALDE together have 247 MPs, and would not therefore need the support of other groups to impeach the government.

Grindeanu, who has been a PSD member for 21 years, said on Wednesday that he did not want to leave the party and on Thursday had called for national consultations to avert a major political crisis. He blamed PSD chief Liviu Dragnea for the deadlock and called for his resignation, instead.

The Prime Minister, who refuses to quit, has already started to recruit new people for his cabinet. Government sources told the media that Grindeanu was negotiating on Thursday with former PSD Prime Minister Victor Ponta to appoint him as Secretary General of the cabinet, the second-most powerful man in the government.

Grindeanu was Telecom Minister in Ponta’s government in 2014-2015, until he resigned, following street protests against widespread corruption after a fire killed 65 in a Bucharest rock club in October 2015.

Grindeanu has also found some support in the PSD, with the Mayor of Iasi, in eastern Romania, calling for Dragnea’s resignation.

“Grindeanu could take over the position of PSD president if he wants to,” Mayor Mihai Chirica told the media. He also said that several PSD members, as well as former PM Ponta and MEP Catalin Ivan, support Grindeanu.

“His [Dragnea's] deeds show that the party needs to cut him off. He will bury the PSD this way. It would be interesting to see how many employees in the Chamber of Deputies are from Teleorman or Ialomita Counties [Dragnea’s strongholds],” Chirica said.

The mayor was one of Dragnea’s most vocal critics during the wave of protests triggered in February by a government decree designed to pardon corruption offences.

Meanwhile, the main opposition groups, the National Liberal Party, PNL, and the Save Romania Union, USR, have called for early elections to solve the deadlock. 

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