Romania’s senior ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD) announced on October 13 it has made the nominations for three new ministers to take over the portfolios left vacant the day before.
Deputy Prime Minister Sevil Shhaideh, Minister for European Funds Rovana Plumb and Transport Minister Razvan Cuc all resigned on October 12. Their resignations were understood to have been made at Prime Minister Mihai Tudose’s instigation as he sought to increase his control over the cabinet and reduce the influence of PSD leader Liviu Dragnea.
Tudose urged Shhaideh and Plumb to resign after the two came under investigation by the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA). Cuc has been criticised by the PM for poor performance.
Paul Stanescu, the leader of PSD Olt county branch, has been nominated to take over the post of minister of development and deputy prime minister, while Felix Stroe, the head of the PSD’s Constanta branch is due to take over the transport portfolio, according to press reports. The PSD nominated Marius Nica to replace Plumb at the ministry of EU funds.
Stanescu is said to be one of the most influential PSD members, heading the Olt county council for eight years before he became senator in 2016, according to Hotnews.ro. He is said to have helped Dragnea take over the PSD leader post. However, there are rumours in the party that the relationship between the two has cooled.
Stanescu still claims he “is proud” of the friendship with Dragnea and has good relations with Tudose.
“[Stanescu] is an old friend of mine, but that didn’t count. He is friends with me, with Mihai [Tudose] and the winner is Mihai Tudose, the PM, because he is a good man for the government,” Dragnea said.
Hotnews claims that there has also been a criminal complaint against Stanescu related to the alleged illegal financing of a football team by the county council.
Nica, nominated to take over the EU funds minister post, held a similar post in March-November 2015 and, according to News.ro is a close ally of Plumb, working as Plumb’s councillor between February 2008 and May 2011 when she was an MEP.
Felix Stroe is currently the head of the Romanian Water Association and has been the head of the PSD’s Constanta branch since 2015. He has Moldovan as well as Romanian citizenship, according to News.ro.
The nominations made by PSD were criticised by Ponta on his Facebook page.
“Tudose won the first part of the match and capitulated unconditionally in the second half. It is a shame. In the end, it was a loss for everybody, the government and Romanian included,” Ponta wrote on Facebook.
“After Basescu’s “young people”, now it is the time for Dragnea’s “young people.” With Stanescu and Stroe it is clear it can be worse than with Shaideh and Cuc! Can you see “European” Stanescu seducing those at the European Commission, can you see “the young and elegant” Felix Stroe discussing European transport corridors and saving Tarom? Better not see them! Why did they make the change? To be sorry for those who left?” Ponta wrote.
Shaideh was given a state councillor post, while Plumb will work for the Commission for European Funds in the Chamber of Deputies.