Romania parliament approves new intelligence services head despite ruling party boycott

By bne IntelliNews July 1, 2015

bne IntelliNews -

 

The Romanian parliament on June 30 voted in favour of appointing Mihai Razvan Ungureanu as head of the foreign intelligence services SIE, despite a boycott from the country’s senior ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD).

PSD, which had announced it would not support the nominee as he is too close to the centre-right parties currently in opposition, decided not to attend the meeting, hoping that in this way the necessary quorum would not be met.

However, UNPR, a key junior ruling party, not only attended the meeting but supported Ungureanu for the position. Ungureanu was backed by 278 of the 289 present MPs. A quorum of 278 MPs was needed for the vote. The Romanian parliament has a total of 554 seats.

UNPR’s move is likely to increase tensions within the ruling coalition and may even lead to its rupture and the formation of a new majority in parliament.

Mihai Razvan Ungureanu, a former Romanian prime minister, foreign affairs minister and head of SIE, was nominated for the position by President Klaus Iohannis. The interim prime minister, Gabriel Oprea, has repeatedly stressed that he and his party UNPR would support President Iohannis in his decisions, including the nomination of SIE head, irrespective of the identity of the nominee.

The co-president of the main opposition National Liberal Party (PNL), Alina Gorghiu, has previously indicated that the nomination of the SIE head is a step towards the formation of a new ruling coalition. She did not explain further at the time, but most likely she was referring to the shift of the junior ruling party from the incumbent ruling coalition to PNL.

Following the vote, Rovana Plumb, who has temporarily replaced Prime Minister Victor Ponta as the head of PSD, said the coalition will continue to function until November 2016, when the next general elections are due, Agerpres news agency reported.

“The coalition is functional, but, of course, when Victor Ponta returns we will have a discussion within the coalition so that until November 2016 there is coherence in our political actions,” Plumb said.

The Romanian prime minister is currently on medical leave in Turkey following knee surgery.

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