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News 30 Dec 16

Romanian President Approves New Social Democrat PM

After rejecting the party's first candidate, Romania's President has given Social Democrat former minister Sorin Grindeanu a mandate to form a new government.

Ana Maria Touma
BIRN
Bucharest
Sorin Grindeanu becomes new Romania Prime Minister. Photo: Octav Ganea

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis on Friday designated Social Democrat Sorin Grindeanu as the country's new Prime Minister.

The move ended days of uncertainty following the Social Democrat Party's convincing victory in the December 11 legislative elections.

Grindeanu, 43, former minister for telecommunications in Victor Ponta’s government, has 10 days to come up with a cabinet and pass a confidence vote in parliament on his program.

The centre-left coalition between the Social Democrats, PSD, and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats, ALDE, holds a solid majority in both chambers of parliament.

The PSD chair Liviu Dragnea and Prime Minister-designate Grindeanu announced that the party’s executive would convene on January 3 to vet the cabinet proposals.

The Prime Minister will announce the government in the afternoon and the new cabinet will be voted on in parliament on January 4.

A cut in VAT and a big hike in the minimum wage are already scheduled for January 1, fulfilling the PSD's campaign promises - but raising fears that Romania's budget deficit will rise above the European Union ceiling of 3 per cent of GDP.

A 15-per-cent wage increase for health and education workers has also been approved by parliament, while the PSD also wants to raise welfare spending.

Iohannis rejected the PSD’s first nominee, Sevil Shhaideh on Tuesday without giving a reason. Sevil Shhaideh, a 52-year-old former Development Minister was Muslim ethnic Tatar minority from the south-eastern port of Constanta.

In her first public appearance after her rejection, Shhaideh said during a talk-shaw on Thursday that she and her family were threatened on several occasions for being Muslim and her two children hadn’t left the house for fear of getting hurt.

“I was not prepared for this level of hatred,” she said, bursting into tears. “I was born here and this is where I grew up,” she added.

The President’s rejection of Shhaideh angered the Social Democrats, who initially threatened to suspend Iohannis but then nominated a second candidate, stating that it was their last effort to avoid a political crisis.

Sources close to the President said on Thursday that he thought Grindeanu was a better proposal than Shhaideh.

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