Ilie Sarbu, PM Ponta’s father in law, officially withdrew from the helm of PSD group in Senate on Sunday. Following Sarbu’s stepping aside, senator Mihai Fifor, the leader of the parliamentary committee of transport and energy, has been elected as the new PSD group leader, gathering most of his colleagues’ votes and outranking his competitor, Serban Nicolae. Fifor got 42 votes, while Nicolae only 12, party sources told local media.
Mihai Fifor was mostly known after he was proposed for the Transport portfolio to replace resigning Ioan Rus in July. Yet, president Iohannis rejected his nomination, arguing he doesn’t have the necessary managing expertise and experience to run the Transport ministry.
Ilie Sarbu stated that he would completely withdraw from politics and would also quit the Social Democrat Party and the Senate ahead the Parliament vote in two weeks through which he is to take over the position of vice-president of the Court of Accounts.
“It’s hard to say why I am quitting politics after 23 years. Generations have always been succeding and I considered that it is a moment when I can do more somewhere else (…) At a certain point, we all have to withdraw, you know how life is,” Sarbu explained his decision. According to him, he wanted to work on agriculture and EU funds within the Court of Accounts, as he is familiar with theese fields since he was Agriculture minister.
He also dislosed he had been thinking to step aside since winter but added he stayed to help Victor Ponta ensure a compact party group in the upper chamber.
Sunday’s senators meeting was attended also by the party interim president Liviu Dragnea and PM Victor Ponta. The premier left before the senators cast their votes.
However, before the vote the prime minister commented on his father in law’s withdrawal, unveiling that Sarbu would have liked to give up this position since December, but he accepted to stay as the group leader at Ponta’s request.
“He didn’t want to be the group leaders since December. I asked him to stay for another parliamentary session and now I thanked him, as he really was a very good group leader. But, at the same time, others can be very good leaders and, as acting prime minister, I will work closely with the social democrat group in the Senate, as I have been working so far,” Ponta said while leaving the Social Democrats’ meeting. He also stated that in the Senate ‘the balance sheet is a little tighter’ regarding the votes and for that reason, PSD members must ensure mobilization in order to support the Government
PM Ponta explained he wouldn’t wait for the vote, as he would find it from the media.
About a week ago, political sources revealed that Sarbu would give up his party group position in the Senate, but that he is also set to leave the Parliament and the party itself, as he eyes a job with the Court of Accounts.