The senior coalition Social Democrats (PSD) in Romania are losing the battle for a non-confidence vote against themselves. The ruling PSD have triggered a parliamentary non-confidence vote on Wednesday, aiming to oust prime minister Sorin Grindeanu, their own nominee.
The man who was not meant to be king
Grideanu,43, is essentially a prime minister that was appointed in December 2016 as a front man for the President of the Social Democrats, Liviu Dragnea, who is serving a two-year suspended sentence for electoral fraud.
However, the young prime minister appears to be moving away from the role of a front man. Last week, Grideanu was stripped of party membership and his Social Democratic cabinet ministers refused to cooperate with him. The political standoff escalated on Sunday, June 18, when the PSD accused him of “contempt for democratic rules,” proceeding to trigger a no-confidence vote.
The numbers do not add up
The vote is due to take place on Wednesday, June 21.
Grideanu is now creating his own power base and the numbers to oust him do not add up. The government controls 174 seats in a 329 seat lower house, that is, a thin majority of nine MPs. Embarrassingly Gideanu has the support of the junior coalition partner, ALDE, with 20 MPs.
The Social Democrats were hoping to counterbalance this with the ethnic Union of Democratic Hungarians (21 seats), but the agreement failed on Tuesday, as the Social Democrats proved unwilling to agree on extra welfare provisions for the minority.
Moreover, there is a sense that Prime Minister Grideanu has some support within the ranks of the Social Democratic Party, but the numbers have not been tested. What is clear is that Grideanu has promised to appoint the former Social Democratic Prime Minister, Victor Ponta, as the Secretary of the Government. Ponta was himself faced corruption allegations in November 2015 and was forced to step down, but he never stopped having strong support within the party, which is now apparently made available to the service of Grideanu.
Social Democrats discredit Social Democrats
If the no-confidence motion passes, the prime minister is deposed and the PSD will make a new appointment, pending the approval of President Klaus Iohannis. In any event, the Social Democrats are experiencing “civil strife,” which may hurt their ability to form a government.
Meanwhile, the Romanian Leu is tumbling to its lowest level since 2012.
And demonstrators are taking to the streets to demand that Romania goes back to the polls, suggesting that corruption is rife and that the President of the PSD, Dragnea, should resign.