ROMANIA’S ruling leftists
filed a no-confidence motion in
parliament on Sunday against their
prime minister, Sorin Grindeanu,
escalating a conflict which
government critics say reflects
internal rifts over anti-corruption
policy.
The Social Democrat Party (PSD)
and its coalition allies withdrew
their support for Grindeanu, 43,
last Wednesday, saying he has
failed to implement the PSD’s
broad governing agenda since it
won a parliamentary election last
December.
Grindeanu refused to resign and
was expelled from the party.
Independent observers said
the PSD is likely unhappy with
Grindeanu’s failure to relax
Romania’s anti-corruption rules
earlier this year and wanted to oust
him to ensure a different premier
does more to protect party seniors
facing graft charges.
Romania is seen as one of the
European Union’s most corrupt
states and Brussels has kept its
justice system under special
monitoring since its 2007 entry.
“Grindeanu’s removal seems to
be at the forefront of an effort by
the ruling coalition to relaunch a
drive to weaken the anti-corruption
fight,” said commentator Mircea
Marian.
At stake could be the future of
PSD leader Liviu Dragnea, who
has received a two-year suspended
sentence in a vote-rigging case and
is now on trial in a separate abuse
of office case. After a recent constitutional
court ruling, the government has to
propose a cap on financial damages
caused by abuse of office offences,
a level which could be decisive in
Dragnea’s case.
“This threshold is among
reasons why Grindeanu had to be
removed,” said political analyst
Cristian Patrasconiu.
A push this year by Grindeanu’s
government to decriminalize
several corruption offences
triggered the biggest street protests
in Romania since the collapse of
Nicolae Ceausescu’s communist
rule in 1989.
The government was forced to
rescind the decree, and its architect,
Justice Minister Florin Iordache
resigned, citing a need to appease
public opinion but saying he had
done nothing wrong.
“Clearly Grindeanu is perceived
by PSD leaders as lacking a firm
hand,” said Marian. “So they are
looking for a prime minister tough
enough to handle and defuse any
potential street protests (in the
future).”
The PSD and its junior coalition
ally have enough deputies for
the no-confidence motion to
succeed, when it is put to a vote on
Wednesday.
Neither grouping has said
anything about their plans
regarding anti-corruption policy,
but both reject accusations they
want to relax the rules for political
gain.
“This is a vote against a
pseudo-government, one without
any legitimacy. A government
which believes it can exert
power in its own name,” Social
Democrat senator Mihai Fifor told
parliamenton Sunday.

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