PM Viorica Dăncilă has announced the first reshuffle of her Cabinet after agreement within the ruling party’s Executive Committee meeting. Therefore, Ramona Mănescu will replace Teodor Melescanu at the helm of the Foreign Ministry, Nicolae Moga will be the new Interior minister after Carmen Dan’s previous resignation and Mihai Fifor will become deputy PM for strategic partnerships.
As for the other deputy PM on economic issues, the interim position currently held by Finance Minister Eugen Teodorovici will come to an end in mid-August. PM Dancila said the party will have another discussion about this portfolio and other ministries in the assessment.
Interior minister Carmen Dan has filed her resignation today. Targeted by the government reshuffle, Carmen Dan announced her resignation before the Executive Committee meeting of PSD, arguing she is leaving the ministry with her head up.
She will be replaced most probably by PSD senator Nicolae Moga.
“I understand there is no under-performing criteria at issue. It is a political decision, and I respect decisions. We also had a discussion about the pressure of the street. We haven’t bothered about it so far, but now it is disturbing. Resignation is unilateral, I expect the premier to take note of it. I am leaving the Interior Ministry with my head up, I have invested a lot in this ministry. I will not ask for anything as long as I tabled my mandate”, Carmen Dan told a press statement.
Asked if PSD has given in to President Iohannis, who had repeatedly asked for her replacement, Carmen Dan replied: “I think so”.
The resigning minister further underlined that she has nothing to reproach to herself, while wishing her successor good luck.
Nicolae Moga has been senator of Constanţa during 2008-2012, 2012-2016 and 2016-2020. He was also vice-president of the Senate in the second legislature (2012-2016). Moga was also in the cards to take over either the Development portfolio or the Tourism ministry, according to sources.
An engineer by training, Nicolae Moga went into politics in 2003, when be became PSD member together with Radu Mazare to whom he was a close friend. They had also close professional connections, setting up a local TV channel that Moga led between 1996 and 2000. He was deputy prefect of Constanta and he was elected senator in 2008. He was vice-chairman of the Defence Committee, vice-president of the Senate and member in the Committee for justice laws.
PM Dancila retorts: Carmen Dan is misinformed
Retorting toe Carmen Dan’s statements that the reasons for which she was asked to resign are political, PM Viorica Dancila said Carmen Dan is misinformed and that PSD would never give in the President’s pressures.
“I will make statements after the Executive Committee. Mrs. Carmen Dan is misinformed if she made this allegation. PSD will never give in to the President’s pressures. We are starting the campaign against president Iohannis, but we must not take decisions to help him. i think some PSD members have learnt nothing and though that, going public before the statutory fora take decisions, someone will appreciate them. It is clear that for some the personal interest is higher. It is not the only reshuffle,” Dancila argued.
The Executive Committee of the ruling Social Democrat Party has convened on Monday at the Parliament Palace to decide on the first round of the government reshuffle announced by PM Viorica Dăncilă. Local media reported that eight ministries are targeted by reshuffle, including from PSD’s ruling partner, ALDE. Calin Popescu Tariceanu, ALDE chairman, confirmed on Sunday that the party had informally decided to reshuffle Teodor Melescanu, the Foreign Affairs minister. The Political Bureau of the party is also set to decide today on Melescanu’s dismissal and on his successor.
In its turn, PSD is set to decide on the interim deputy PM position, now temporarily led by Justice Minister Ana Birchall and Finance Minister Eugen Teodorovici. After the Executive Committee’s official decisions, the premier will have a discussion with President Klaus Iohannis.
The most rumoured ministers to be replaced are Ecaterina Andronescu (Education), Daniel Suciu (Ministry of Development), Carmen Dan (Interior Ministry), Razvan Cuc (Transports) and Petre Daea (Agriculture).
FM Melescanu replaced by Ramona Manescu
Before the PSD meeting, ALDE has its own sitting, deciding to strip FM Teodor Melescanu of political support and to replace him with Ramona Manescu.
A former Liberal, Ramona Manescu, who joined ALDE in 2017, was Transports minister in Ponta Cabinet, and a former MEP while she was member of the National Liberal Party.
“We all agreed that Mr. Melescanu has been competent in his office and we consider him one of our benchmark representatives. Yet, we cannot deny a certain type of negative public perception. We decided to withdraw Mr. Melescanu’s political support. At the same time we proposed Ramona Manescu for the position of Foreign minister,” said ALDE spokesperson, Varujan Vosganian.
PM Dancila has had talks with the party members on Sunday, during an informal meeting, a picnic organised in a forest in Teleorman county. Following these talks, two dismissals were almost certain: Teodor Melescanu from the Foreign Ministry and Carmen Dan from the Interior Ministry. The two’s dismissals has been also asked by President Iohannis for they would have poorly managed the electoral process at the European election on May 26.
Agriculture minister Petre Daea would have also been on the black list. He might be replaced by a secretary of state within the ministry, Dumitru Daniel Botănoiu or by PSD deputy Valeriu Steriu, but no official decision has been taken at the meeting today.
PSD seems to be discontent also with Ana Birchall, Justice minister, with sources revealing she might be replaced possibly by senator Robert Cazanciuc, Justice minister in the past. Asked about potential tensions with Birchall, PM Dancila denied on Friday, saying she has “very good relations with all ministers” of her Cabinet.
Dancila Cabinet has 27 ministries, with four of them taken by ALDE ministers (Teodor Melescanu- Foreign Ministry, Graţiela Gavrilescu-Environment, Anton Anton-Energy ad Viorel Ilie-Minister for Parliament Liason).
PSD votes for its own candidate for Presidency. Tariceanu considers new alliance. Dancila-Firea row
By far the most stringent problem for the ruling party seems to be though the candidate for Presidency. The PSD CEx has also decided to have its own candidate for Presidency, despite Gabriela Firea’s opposition and to Calin Popescu Tariceanu’s discontent.
Despite the internal polls PSD is conducting to see the best ranked Social Democrat to run for the Cotroceni seat, which surveyed Eugen Teodorovici, Liviu Plesoianu and Serban Nicolae, PM Dancila is said to be coveting this position, although she initially denied eyeing a bid for Presidency.
Sources within PSD revealed the results of the internal polls showed poor quotas for the surveyed members, which prompted the premier reconsider her positions. Dancila admitted last week that she considers running if the party asks her to.
Moreover, it seems that PM Dancila’s major issue at this moment is the potential competition coming from Gabriela Firea, Bucharest mayor, who is the PSD member enjoying the highest confidence on all recent opinion polls. Sources within PSD said that Dancila is now trying to convince Gabriela Firea to drop intentions to run for Presidency, considering Firea’s high confidence percentage.
On the other hand, Calin Popescu Tariceanu, in the cards to be endorsed as a sole candidate of PSD-ALDE for Cotroceni, has revealed he is considering the possibility to make alliance with other party if PSD is not favoring a common candidate. PM Dancila has recently stated that most branches of the ruling party are in favor of a Social Democrat candidate.
Tariceanu told Antena 3 on Sunday evening that, unless a common PSD-ALDE candidate is agreed for presidential election, then ALDE will look for another alliance, possibly with Pro Romania, led by ex-PM Victor Ponta. Asked if this issue could break the current ruling coalition, Tariceanu retorted that he has respect for his ruling partners, but, beyond vanity, PSD-ALDE should also be realistic and politically pragmatic.
On top of all, it seems that the mayor of Bucharest, Gabriela Firea is tipping the scale to make an alliance with Tariceanu and Pro Romania ahead presidential election, although she is still a PSD member. However, she had been at odds with the ruling party for more than a year.
Firea has stated today that she “is open for talks” on designating a candidate for Presidency. Saying she cannot say “yes” or “no” about running at this point, Firea pointed out that PSD must not embark in this race with a second chance. “We must not settle for second, third best. I don’t think anyone at this point wants the power just for himself. Then, we must have a serious talk about present and future with our traditional partners, Mr. Tariceanu and with our former colleagues from Pro Romania,” Firea said before the CEx sitting.
The Bucharest mayor pleaded her stance within the CEx meeting as well, embarking on a cross talk with PM Viorica Dancila, who insisted PSD should designate its own candidate for Presidency.
Sources attending the meeting say Firea would have reproached Dancila that she has come out public first to talk about running for Presidency, although she has always claimed things should be discussed and decided within the statutory fora.
Bucharest mayor would have also told the prime minister that she is not communication enough with the ruling partners, ALDE, on the presidential candidate issue. Firea also accused Dancila that she is creating problems.
Dancila would have replied to Firea that she is not a trouble maker and that she cannot ignore the mandate of the PSD members and that she will be the one settling the results if they are poor results in election. Dancila added that if PSD is not entering the presidential runoffs, then she will be the first to resign from the helm of the party.
“You had something to reproach to the former party chairman and now you have something to reproach to the current leader,” Dancila would have told Firea.
“I see you don’t want us to have a constructive and positive dialogue. Don’t scold me for this is not the solution”, Firea would have replied to the PM.