Against expectations, the Romanian Social Democrats managed to oust their own appointee, Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu.
Last week, the 68-member Central Committee of the PSD stripped Grideanu of his party membership, whilst his cabinet ministers refused to cooperate with him. The 43-year old was put forward as a candidate prime minister because the leader of the PSD, Liviu Dragnea, is serving a suspended two-year sentence for electoral fraud.
Mr Grindeanu lost the vote of confidence by 241 votes to 10; the motion needed 233 to pass. There were to keys to his ousting. First, the junior coalition Liberal partners of the government, ALDE, opted to abstain rather that support Grideanu. Secondly, the PSD proved managed to effectively whip its parliamentary group, which was expected to fracture among supporters and opponents of Grideanu.
When Grindeanu was appointed in December 2016, he was expected to act as a puppet prime minister and fall in line with the political demands of Dragnea. Instead, the prime minister and the leader of the PSD fell out, as Romania became the fastest growing economy in the EU while the prime minister apparently failed to defend his party against allegations of corruption; meanwhile, he apparently also tried to create his own power base within the Socialist Party, mainly through an alliance with the former leader of the Socialist Party, Victor Ponta.
President Klaus Iohannis must now nominate a new Prime Minister, which inevitably means the PSD will need to find a new candidate that is not threatening to Liviu Dragnea.