Tariceanu to kick out the Democratic Party from power
Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu has proposed a new Government that kicks out
the Democratic Party (PD) from power.
The new leadership will include the National Liberal Party (PNL) and the Democratic Union of Hungarians from Romania (UDMR). The two parties will together form a minority Government with around 23 per cent control of the two legislative chambers.
The Prime Minister's plan also includes the removal of seven PD ministers and one independent, Monica Macovei, the Justice Minister widely praised by the European Union for her reform of the justice system in Romania.
Tariceanu is also streamlining the number of ministries from the current 20, including Tariceanu as Head of Government, to 18. This signals the end of the DA Alliance between the National Liberal Party and Democratic Party, which came to power at the beginning of 2005.
It will also undermine President Basescu, whose greatest allies remain in the party of which he was a member, the PD.
Tariceanu sent the list of the new Cabinet members to Parliament on Monday 2 April. Hearings of the proposed ministers are now scheduled to take place in special commissions of both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.
After the hearings, the Parliament, in a common session, has to vote on whether to approve the restructured Government.
But this will not be easy. The PNL and the UDMR will need the support of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) for the new proposal to gain a majority in Parliament. The Conservative Party (PC) and the Greater Romania Party (PRM), headed by Corneliu Vadim Tudor, have announced that they will cast the vote against a Government which includes UDMR members.
In reply, President Traian Basescu warned the Parliament that if it approves the new Government, there is a risk of a rupture between the political class and Romanian society.
Emil Boc, head of the Democratic Party, has called the Prime Minister's move "illegal".
The radical change comes only 18 months before the General Election at the end of 2008 and six months before the proposed date of the European Parliamentary elections.
By Ana Maria Nitoi
The restructured Government proposed by Tariceanu includes 15 ministries, a Delegate
Minister, a Deputy Prime Minister and the Prime Minister. UDMR maintains the
position of Deputy Prime Minister under Marko Bela in the new Cabinet.
"We did not want this change," said Bela. "We would have opted for the current cabinet formula, but a deadlock appeared which had to be solved."
Hungarian Party Ministries
The new Ministry of Development, Public Works and Housing will go to Laszlo Borbely. Now a Minister Delegate for Public Works and Land Management, this upgrades his position with the inclusion of responsibility for allocating billions of EU Structural Funds.
The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology will remain in the hands of Zsolt Nagy, who is currently under investigation by the General Prosecutor's Office for allegedly leaking secret information to business consultants on sensitive Government privatisations in the energy sector.
Marko Bela remains Deputy Prime Minister co-ordinating the activities in Culture, Education and European Integration.
The new Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development will go to Attila Korodi, now secretary of state in environmental issues. A UDMR member since 2004, 29 year-old, Korodi will be the youngest minister in Romania since 1989.
The Ministry of Justice will go to Tudor Chiuariu. Aged 30, Chiuariu has been working as a secretary of state and Head of the Fight Against Fraud Department (DLAF).
The Ministry of Health will remain with Eugen Nicolaescu.
The Ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs will remain with Adrian Iorgulescu
The Minister Delegate for the Government's relations with Parliament will continue to be under the jurisdiction of Mihai Voicu, a close friend of Tariceanu.
The Ministry of Economy and Trade and the Ministry of Public Finances will merge into the Ministry of Economy and Finance, under Varujan Vosganian, who has been Minister of Economy and Trade.
The Ministry of Transport will go to Ludovic Orban, currently head of the Bucharest branch of the PNL and deputy mayor of the Capital. He is also the brother of the European Commissioner for Multilingualism, Leonard Orban.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will go to historian and political analyst Adrian Cioroianu. 40 year-old Cioroianu has already been rejected by Basescu, who argued he does not have the necessary experience for the job.
The Ministry of Agriculture will to to Decebal Traian Remes. Tariceanu brought Remes back to the front-line after the former Finance Minister, between 1998 and 2000, spent years in the political wilderness. Remes has been a PNL member since 1991 and is one of the oldest Liberals in the current Government.
The Ministry of Defence is earmarked for Teodor Melescanu who, like Remes, is a member of the Liberal old guard. Senator Melescanu was, between 1992-1996, the Foreign Affairs Minister in Nicolae Vacaroiu's Social Democratic Cabinet.
The new Ministry of Education, Research and Youth will go to 32 year-old Cristian Adomnitei. The Iasi Deputy has been a PNL member since he was 19.
The new Ministry of Labour, Family and Equality of Chance will go to Senator Paul Pacuraru.
The new Ministry for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, Trade, Tourism and the Self-Employed will go to Euro-Parliamentarian Ovidiu Silaghi. He is currently a Deputy for Satu Mare.
The new Ministry of the Interior and Administrative Reform will go to Cristian David. Since 2004 David has been a Senator and Minister Delegate in charge with the control of the implementation of the internationally financed programs and the supervision of the enforcement of Acquis Communautaire.
WHO IS GIVEN THE BOOT
- Monica Macovei - Justice
- Sebastian Vladescu - Finance
- Dan Motreanu - Agriculture
- Mihail Hardau - Education
- Vasile Blaga - Interior and Administrative Affairs
- Sorin Frunzaverde - Defence
- Anca Boagiu - European Integration
- Sulfina Barbu - Environment and Water Management
- Gheorghe Barbu - Labour
- Radu Berceanu - Transport, Construction and Tourism
The head of Romania’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE) Claudiu Saftoiu has resigned after a minor gaffe concering phone-tapping.
Saftoiu revealed that the SIE had tapped phone calls, based on a warrant from the General Prosecutor.
The revelation that lead to Saftoiu’s resignation came at a hearing of a parliamentary commission investigating the alleged breaking of the constitution by President Basescu.
It was understood at the time by the authorities that such phone calls could not be authorised from the General Prosecutor, so Saftoiu dismissed himself.
However one week later the special Parliament Commission in charge with SIE said all the tappings concerned had legal grounds for approval.
This means there was no need for Saftoiu to gain approval for their legitimacy.
Saftoiu, a former counsellor and aide to President Basescu and journalist for Evenimentul Zilei, has only been in the job of SIE boss for five months.
President Traian Basescu is delaying his announcement on whether to launch a public referendum on electoral reform, allowing voters to chose individuals within a constituency, rather than a party list.
This would transform elections from the existing proportional representation to one of a ‘uni-nominal’ representative democracy.
Basescu said a direct vote would reduce corruption by making politicians more accountable to voters.
The referendum is likely to happen if Parliament fails to decide to adopt the voting system.
“Uni-nominal voting is necessary,” says Alexandru Cumpanasu, general director of the Association for Implementing Democracy, “ but to introduce it for all the parts of Government is very dangerous.”
Some critics fear that Romanians will vote for strong personalities within their constituencies and those with money and power over the regional media, rather than for party and policy. But others argue that it will bring Parliamentarians closer to the electorate.
At the beginning of March, the Parliament did not approve a Presidential proposal to open up a referendum for the uni-nominal vote. From the lower chamber, 233 Parliamentarians voted in favour of the motion, two below the number necessary to pass.
The proposal was supported by the Liberal Democrat Party (PLD) and Democratic Party (PD).Opposition came from the Hungarian Party (UDMR) and Greater Romania Party (PRM).
This was a symbolic gesture, as Parliament only has a consultative role in the President’s proposal for a referendum.
Basescu, who backs the uni-nominal vote, may need to win a public referendum in order to convince the Parliament to change the voting structure.
The Parliamentary Commission set up to investigate whether there is grounds to impeach President Basescu has produced a list of accusations the head of state broke the constitution, without specific documents to back these allegations up.
After three weeks of hearings the commission, led by Conservative Party president Dan Voiculescu, who is alleged to be a former Communist secret service collaborator, analysed data, documents and the public deeds and attitudes of President Basescu. But the full text of the final report has not been made public.
The Commission did not find any ‘smoking gun’ that proves Basescu broke the Constitution, but is leaving the final decision up to Parliament. Instead, the Commission drew up a list of 19 accusations against the President. These stated that he showed favouritism towards one political party over the others and created an atmosphere of political instability.
The report said the President insulted the state through his comments describing the Romanian Parliament as “a brain-dead shanty house”. It attacked him for refusing to appoint ministers the Prime Minister had proposed and compromised the secret services by asking for the resignation of their heads.
In justice, it claimed the President ordered prosecutors to put a priority on certain cases and “intimidated” the Constitutional Court. The most sever accusation may be the allegation that Basescu has approved illegal phone-tapping.
The document also speaks of ‘criminal deeds’, proof of which, representatives claim, is in the ‘secret’ 700 pages of annexes to the report.
The ball is now in the Constitutional Court, which has to approve the report. If this happens, both chambers of the Parliament will vote on whether to impeach President Basescu. If they approve to kick out the head of state, his job is suspended for a maximum of 30 days. During this period, a referendum must take place to allow the people to choose to keep or dismiss their leader.
Bucharest Court House has sentenced 12 persons guilty of the collapse of mutual fund Fondul National de Investitii (FNI) to a total of 60 years. This is a retrial, slashing 40 years from their original sentence in 2005.
In 2000 FNI attracted investors with stocks, but collapsed when it could not offer full redemption, causing losses in the range of 300 million Euro.
Former administrator of fund managers SOV Invest, Ioana Maria Vlas was sentenced to 13 years in prison for misdemeanours, forgery and abuse in service. She has decided to appeal.
The court decided that 140,000 people should receive the sums they invested, from bodies such as SOV Invest, the Securities Arm of the bank CEC, the Privatisation Authority and the convicts.
Sorin Ovidiu Vantu, millionaire media magnate and the man with the initials of SOV invest, which he helped to found, was not tried.
Political crisis prompts PM to delay Euro elections
Prime Minister Tariceanu decided to delay the European elections in Romania from 13 May to the Autumn of 2007 due to the current political crisis. He argued that because there are two proposals for referendums ongoing, with the President calling for a uni-nominal vote and the opposition asking for the impeachment of the President, this could interfere with the intent of the EP vote. “The European elections must not be spoilt by the disputes and the ambitions connected to the current political scheming,” said Tariceanu.But critics argue that he is delaying the vote because of the poor showing in opinion polls of his own political party, the National Liberal Party (PNL).
Romanian women: lowest life expectancy in EU
Women in Romania have the lowest life expectancy in the European Union, at 75.4 years of age. Romanian men, have an expectancy of 68.2 years, a figure lower than all the other countries except Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, according to figures by Eurostat. Romania also has the highest fertility rate in EU’s eastern side, except for Cyprus and Estonia. Romanian women are also the fewest to graduate from University in the EU.
Minister faces prosecution for security breach
Minister of IT&C Zsolt Nagy is facing criminal charges following President Basescu’s request to Monica Macovei to start legal procedures against him. This follows a report by a commission from the General Prosecutor’s Office into the Minister’s alleged abuse in service. Nagy and former Minister of Economy and Trade, Codrut Seres, are accused of sending secret information on important privatisations to Stamen Stancev, a consultant to several foreign companies. According to the report, Nagy’s role was to check if the telephones of Stancev’s organisation were being monitored by the secret services.
Former Transport Minister faces dodgy land deal probe
Former Social Democratic Party Minister of Transport, Construction and Public Works, Miron Mitrea, faces a criminal investigation from anti-corruption prosecutors over suspicious land deals. Mitrea is accused of approving a land transfer deal from the state-owned Baneasa airport to an unnamed person. Mitrea allowed the state to sell land worth seven million Euro less that its market value, according to a spokesman for the Anti-Corruption Department, cited by Reuters.
Head of Romania’s Competition Council resigns
Mihai Berinde, president of Romania’s Competition Council last month resigned citing personal reasons. As we went to press no replacement has been announced, but vice president Alexe Gavrila has been named as interim president.
Musca quits parliament after losing secret service appeal
Deputy Mona Musca last month resigned from her MP seat and also left the Liberal-Democrat Party (PLD) after the Bucharest Appeal Court issued a final verdict, deciding that Musca was a collaborator of Ceausescu’s secret police, the Securitate. The sentence leaves no room for any other legal actions. In September, Musca appealed against a similar verdict, when issued by CNSAS, the body enabled to study the Securitate archives. Musca also faces a potential penalty of two years in jail for making false official statements.
Far right Euro group signs up sixth Romanian
Former National Liberal Party (PNL) Euro parliamentarian Mircea Cosea has joined the far right group in the European Parliament, Identity, Tradition and Sovereignty (ITS). The politician will represent an independent line in Europe. He will not join the Greater Romania Party (PRM), which has five MEPs in ITS.