Welcome Viorica Dănică, Romania’s first female Prime Minister. An accomplishment, for a country in need of some modernization. But as her two predecessors each lasted only six months as Prime Minister, I wouldn’t recommend her getting a long-term mortgage.
I know just how much people are asking what this change can mean, so I will try to give my assessment.
The simplest explanation is that the revolving door in the Prime Minister’s office, with now three occupants since the December 2016 elections I witnessed, is the result of power struggles within the dominant Social Democratic Party (PSD).
The most powerful politician in the country, PSD President Liviu Dragnea, has been blocked from serving as Prime Minister due to a previous election-tampering conviction. Hence he and his party executive have nominated Prime Ministers to implement the party program. And, in oddly similar situations, after about six months, each of the first two Prime Ministers seemed to get inflated by the position, challenging the power of Mr Dragnea. And in each case, they were forced to resign.
Ms Dănică, currently sitting as a member of the European Parliament, is a relative unknown. She at least has a clean criminal record. She is a native of the same poverty-stricken county, Teleorman, as Mr Dragnea. Hence the media seems to view Ms Dănică as an ego-free loyalist, the least likely to challenge the power of the real boss.
Recently I had commented on some important goings on in the Romanian parliament. The Government was proposing changes to the justice system that would bring the judiciary and the anti-corruption prosecutors under closer Ministerial supervision. Especially as Mr Dragnea is newly under corruption investigation, the measures sound similar to American efforts to muzzle the top prosecutor in the land. A coalition of civic groups, businesses and foreign governments have warned the government to think twice. How will these changes in the Prime Minister’s office affect these dangerous moves?
It’s not clear, actually. The previous Prime Minister, Mihai Tudose, had previously shown an inflexibility to consider further changes in the justice system legislation, and I have read that Mr Dragnea (and hence his new Prime Minister) might be willing to consider some revisions.
Whether those changes are fundamental or cosmetic remains to be seen.