The growing rivalry between Liviu Dragnea, the leader of Romania’s ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD) and Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu erupted on Facebook on June 11, Dragnea warned that political stability is “not a matter of one person alone”. In a television interview, Dragnea also commented that a total reshuffle of the government is “not impossible”.
Dragnea was blocked from becoming prime minister after his party won the December 2016 election because he has a criminal conviction. Since then Grindeanu, his second choice for the post, has become increasingly independent, and speculation about a possible reshuffle has been growing.
However, the chances of any major reshuffle are rather unlikely, as Dragnea has apparently lost the support of some local party leaders, disappointed by his failure to take steps to weaken anti-corruption legislation.
Nonetheless, he took the time to comment on a Facebook post by Grindeanu, in which the prime minister called for moderation, stressing that stability doesn’t rest on a single person. “Voters’ trust should not be deceived by changes, political crises and possibly new elections,” Grindeanu had written, clearly speaking about the PSD’s plans for a government reshuffle.
It has became clear that Grindeanu is not backing Dragnea and that he has gained a degree of independence since his appointment. This culminated with the situation last week when neither Grindeanu nor Finance Minister Viorel Stefan attended the parliament meeting where the controversial unified public sector wage bill was endorsed.
Dragnea continued to threaten a reshuffle later on June 11. People are concerned with the ruling strategy alone, he stressed in an interview with Romania TV — implying the population are less concerned about who is the prime minister.
“If we come to the conclusion that there is no other way [but replacing the whole government], we will have to take this step. I don’t want this to happen, though,” Dragnea added after party leaders met at PSD headquarters that evening to discuss a report evaluating the government’s activity.
The report, drafted by the PSD, identified “certain issues in some areas”, Dragnea said when pressed by journalists to comment on the measures to be taken based on the evaluation . Despite vague criticisms of Grindeanu during the previous days, Dragnea failed to name one specific example of misconduct by the government, leaving the door open to any decision on the reshuffle. Conclusions have not been drawn yet, he explained.
On the same vague note, Bucharest mayor Gabriela Firea, seen by some as a replacement for Grindeanu, complained about the government as being “more difficult to work with, even compared to the cabinet of technocrats [led by former Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos]”. Maybe the prime minister no longer needs the PSD’s support since it gained support from other sides, she continued on same note. Her acid remarks was followed by similar ironical comments by Dragnea.