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Romanian Ruling Party Turns on Own Man

Premier Grindeanu has refused to step down ahead of no-confidence motion next week.

16 June 2017

The turmoil in Romania’s government reached bizarre levels yesterday, as the ruling party will call for a vote of no confidence against the government headed by one of its own members.


The crisis began Wednesday when the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD) withdrew support for Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu (pictured)’s cabinet. When Grindeanu refused to resign, PSD leader Liviu Dragnea yesterday said the party would file a motion of no confidence on Monday. PSD’s executive committee also voted to expel Grindeanu from the party, SeeNews reports.


Many observers read these events as a power struggle between the prime minister and Dragnea, the powerful party leader whose conviction on vote-rigging charges, which he contests, barred him from becoming prime minister after elections last December.


Late yesterday Grindeanu said he will resign only if Dragnea gives up his party leadership by Monday.


President Klaus Iohannis said he will only appoint a new prime minister if Grindeanu resigns or loses the no-confidence vote next week, Business Insider quotes his spokeswoman as saying.


Asked how the National Liberals, the largest opposition party in parliament, would vote on the no-confidence question, acting party chair Raluca Turcan said, “There still is a long way to go. Let us not forget that Mr. Dragnea further uses all levers at hand to put pressure and even blackmail Mr. Grindeanu,” Nine O’Clock reports.


Former Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos said the ruling PSD-Alliance of Liberals and Democrats coalition “is cannibalizing its own government, consumed by the eternal passion of the struggle for power. Unfortunately, an irresponsible, sad and painful spectacle for Romania.”


Ciolos headed a technocratic government formed in 2015 after scandal engulfed the PSD-led cabinet of Victor Ponta over a deadly nightclub fire in Bucharest.


Under Grindeanu, the party again faced huge protests and international condemnation, this time when Grindeanu drafted a decree to decriminalize most official bribe-taking. He also proposed an amnesty for all those sentenced to prison terms of less than five years – such as Dragnea, who is serving a suspended sentence for election fraud.


As protests against the proposals mounted in February, Grindeanu rejected calls for his resignation, saying a no-confidence vote was the only democratic way to oust a serving prime minister. Next week, he may sorely regret his words.



  • At their peak, last winter’s anti-government demonstrations attracted an estimated half-million people in what some observers called the biggest protests since the 1989 revolution.


  • The government rescinded the decree in the face of domestic and international criticism, and days later Grindeanu survived a no-confidence motion in parliament when the PSD and its allies abstained.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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