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PM Ponta resigns following mass protests downtown Bucharest

Romanian PM Victor Ponta announced his resignation on Wednesday in a press conference at Victoria Palace.

“I have the obligation to determine the legitimate anger existing within the society. People want more and it would be a mistake to ignor this,” Ponta argued.

“I don’t want and I don’t think it’s fair to leave this responsibilities neither on the persons who were on the ground, nor on mayors, secretaries of state or ministers. I am ready to take this step that a part of the society is waiting for and starting today I put my mandate of prime minister on the table. I am doing that for, while I was politician, I stood to any battle with my political foes, but I won’t fight people,” the resigning premier added.

“People’s anger and suffering should not degenerate in power games and I think the aggression and verbal violence is a cost that we shouldn’t assume. I hope that abdication of the government will satisfy the expectations of those who protested,” Ponta pointed out.

“In a troublous climate with street protests it’s hard to promote new positive projects, and I am good only at positive projects. Those who think that only through hate can lead the country will see it’s not like that, as they saw in 2012. I want to thank all those who voted this government, to the ruling coalition leaders and to the lawmakers who stood by this government and I am convinced the political forces who endorsed us can take pride in the economic results,” Ponta added.

“I want to remark one more thing and I am not referring to anyone in particular, it’s just an experience, those who are speculating people’s suffering to political effect will pay a very high price sooner or later, and I’m afraid I will be right,” Victor Ponta concluded, while informing there will be a Government’s special sitting at 4 p.m. when he will thank the ministers with whom he collaborated and to prepare the transition period to the next Cabinet.

Immediately after the prime minister announced his resignation, the EUR-RON exchange rate was up from 4.43 to 4.4 and the trend is upward.

Over 25,000 Romanians took the streets in Bucharest on Tuesday evening as a protest against the government after nightclub fire that claimed 32 lives and left more than 150 injured. Following an impressive mobilization on social media channels, Romanians gathered downtown Bucharest since 6 p.m., then marched down the city’s main boulevards calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Victor Ponta, Interior Minister Gabriel Oprea and of the mayor of District 4 where the Colectiv nightclub was located.

A move decided within PSD

Sources from the Social Democrat Party disclosed that it was PSD new chairman Liviu Dragnea who told Victor Ponta that it’s time he resigned following Bucharest protests and the scandal involving Gabriel Oprea, given the fact that Social Democrats would oppose a new collaboration with Oprea’s UNPR.

Liviu Dragnea had several talks with some party leaders on Tuesday night during mass protests and it was decided to stop collaboration with UNPR. Some other PSD sources unveiled that the executive president Valeriu Zgonea expressed willingness to resign from the Chamber of Deputies Speaker position to send „a signal” in this respect.

Liviu Dragnea was also the first to herald PM Ponta’ resignation on Wednesday morning.

„We assumed some principles at the Congress, we decided to create a total divorce from the past, which also means a total breach from the old way to go in for politics. We decided to go in for politics for people and that means you shouldn’t be deaf or blind when people are crying their discontent,” Dragnea argued.

„We understood that some of our partners don’t want to assume any responsibility and they don’t understand they cannot go in for politics without knowing what people want. If they don’t assume that, the prime minister decided to put his mandate on the table. We’ll have a coalition meeting (…),” Dragnea was saying few minutes before PM Ponta announced his resignation.

However, deputy premier Gabriel Oprea reacted on Wednesday few hours after Ponta’s resignation, saying he talked to Ponta at eleven o’clock in the night on Tuesday and they decided together “to listen to the voice of the street”. “We considered it’s normal that the entire Government should hand in its resignation,” Oprea added.

Reactions

Former president Traian Basescu: „Victor Ponta did the right thing. Thank you!” Basescu commented on Facebook precisely on November 4, when he turned 64.

Ludovic Orban, Liberal MP: „With a one year delay, finally Ponta is doing what he should have done before, to resign. Unfortunately, during all this time Romania has suffered and the country’s image as affected abroad and in the country things have degraded.

About Alina Grigoras Butu