Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis has asked Sorin Grindeanu, the candidate proposed by the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and its ally the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE), to form a government. The move on December 30 averts further political tensions, after Iohannis rejected the first PSD candidate for the post, prompting speculation about an impeachment procedure against him in parliament.
The alliance of PSD and ALDE has the necessary seats in parliament to endorse Grindeanu. It has already reached an agreement with the ethnic Hungarian party.
PSD President Liviu Dragnea, who cannot himself serve as prime minister because of a past criminal sentence, is expected to keep a tight control on the government. Dragnea has said that a PSD committee will review the government’s actions on a monthly basis.
Dragnea initially insisted on appointing Sevil Shhaideh, one of his lieutenants, for the PM post; by contrast Grindeanu is broadly seen as being as a more neutral candidate backed by the regional leaders of PSD. This could lead to tensions between Grindeanu and Dragnea.
Grindeanu (43) has developed a career at local level within PSD and has served as deputy mayor of Timisoara (2008-2012). He heads the local PSD organisation and served as minister of IT and communications in the government of Prime Minister Victor Ponta (2012-2015).
Grindeanu has been a protégée of major PSD politician Ilie Sarbu and a close political partner of former PM Ponta. Nonetheless, he was among the first regional leaders to support current leader Liviu Dragnea in replacing Ponta at the top of PSD.
Grindeanu joined the leftist PSD (at that time called the PDSR) in 1996 when he was 23, in a city traditionally dominated by the rightwing parties. A graduate of mathematics in 1997, he developed a brief career as assistant at the university but soon (in 2001) accepted positions within public administration backed by the PSD. In 2005, he became the leader of local PSD organisation. Since 2008 until 2012, he served as deputy mayor of Timisoara.
Iohannis, a former leader of the opposition National Liberal party, had rejected PSD’s first nomination, Shhaideh, prompting political uncertainty and speculation about a possible major conflict with the parliamentary majority.
Iohannis has not explained the grounds for his decision on Shhaideh’s candidacy, but it was broadly speculated that her husband, a Syrian citizen with a past career in the Damascus administration, was the main reason. Shhaideh’s career in the local administration at Constanta county, where several top public servants were indicted for corruption, might have been another reason.