Romanian Social Democrats reshuffle cabinet

By bne IntelliNews December 15, 2014

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Romania's Social Democrats endorsed on December 14 the reshuffling of both the ruling coalition and the cabinet,  in a bid to shore up the government following Prime Minister Victor Ponta's defeat in the presidential elections.

The ethnic Hungarian UDMR party has officially decided to pull out of the government, but UDMR president Kelemen Hunor said that Hungarian lawmakers would approve the new cabinet in exchange for lower ranking positions in the public administration. The Conservative party (PC) of Dan Voiculescu, who is currently in jail for corruption, and the small UNPR party of retired general Gabriel Oprea were given one more seat in the cabinet, and the newly formed reformist Liberal party PLR of Calin Popescu-Tariceanu (which separated from the opposition PNL) will join the coalition.

The balance of votes should in principle secure smooth endorsement of Ponta's new cabinet.  Ponta had made clear that PSD lawmakers voting against the new cabinet would be expelled.

Among the other key changes:

  • The three new active members of the cabinet will be given 2 ministries each. This is clearly aimed at securing the votes of the three parties' MPs.
  • The finance and budget ministries will merge and former budget minister Darius Valcov becomes minister of finance and budget; former finance minister Ioana Petrescu will leave the cabinet.
  • The new minister of economy is going to be Mihai Tudose,  a PSD MP and intelligence school graduate with no particular experience for the position.
  • The energy department, until now a department of the ministry of economy, is turned into a full ministry and absorbs the ministry of small and medium sized enterprises. Energy minister Eugen Nicolescu – an expert that has performed particularly well so far - leaves the office. Andrei Gerea of the PLR is nominated to become the new minister.
  • Vice-president Liviu Dragnea loses his seat. There will be only one vice-PM, in the person of UNPR president Gabriel Oprea. Dragnea will remain minister of regional development and public administration.

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