Political tensions rise in Romania ahead expected split of ruling coalition

By bne IntelliNews February 21, 2014

The tensions between the two major ruling parties in Romania are on the rise ahead of a possible split next week. Unofficial sources quoted by B1 TV station indicate that the split would happen sometime next week. Junior partner PNL warned it will ask for PM Victor Ponta’s resignation in case its demands are not met, while senior partner PSD invited PNL to adjust its demands.

With four PNL ministers subject to a frozen government reshuffle, two of whom have already resigned, the government still operates smoothly and may continue operating so even if a fifth one joins the list following a corruption case involving labour minister Mariana Campeanu [PNL].

In case of a split, the senior ruling party might remain in office until November’s presidential elections, particularly if it succeeds in gaining the support of the ethnic Hungarian party UDMR, as rumoured. The adjustments in public administration would probably impede its smooth functioning, but with no major problems expected.

At stake are the political balances after the presidential elections in November. Namely, in case it separates from its partner PNL, leftist PSD risks losing everything unless it wins the presidential elections alone. 

A major ruling coalition of right-wing parties, supported by a would-be right-wing president, would predictably remove the fragile leftist PSD coalition. On the opposite, if leftist PSD wins the presidential elections, smaller parties will predictably join it and consolidate the PSD-led ruling coalition likely to remain in office for the remaining two years of its term. The all-or-nothing bet is risky and this is what makes PSD’s decision next week rather unpredictable.

In its turn, the junior ruling party PNL benefits from the recent developments among opposition parties. Not only that they consolidated their positions in terms of public support, but PNL could now more easily find partners as a result of a change in the structure of the right-wing parties. PNL has much more reasons to leave its partnership with leftist PSD – seen from the very beginning as temporary and against the political doctrine of the party.

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