Friday, March 23, 2007

Romania: Opposition wants cabinet to be restructured immediately

09:14 - 23 March 2007
Pressure for the Cabinet to be restructured came from PSD again yesterday. PSD had also threatened to initiate a non-confidence vote before the session of the Parliament began. PSD President Mircea Geoana said he would be willing to support a new cabinet as long as the premier announced the restructuring the following week, Nine o' clock reports.
The Conservatives also asked for a rapid restructuring of the Government, yesterday, and also demanded the resignation of President Traian Basescu. ‘We are willing to also explore other formulae for a complete government’, PSD leader Mircea Geoana stated yesterday.

Otherwise, he threatened, PSD will initiate a non-confidence vote against the Government. For the restructuring to take place, the law governing the organisation and the operation of the Government needs to be amended, therefore the Parliament would need to vote.

The voting procedure is similar to the one for instating the Government, where the qualified majority is needed and, in case the law failed to be passed, the prime minister would be considered dismissed.

The blunt support the Social Democrats are ready to give a Tariceanu cabinet heated up spirits among the Democrats, who accused the Premier of leaving PD and UDMR out when deciding on the restructuring outside the alliance and the coalition. Over the past few days the press has been speculating on the fact that PD may be removed from government, anticipating a PNL-PSD-PC-UDMR coalition.

The Government will be restructured by Easter (within two weeks), UDMR Deputy Hunor Kelemen stated yesterday, but a decision on the political composition (that is with or without PD) has not been yet made by the Premier.

The Democrats have informed that they were not going to leave the Government anyway ‘not to give Tariceanu the satisfaction’, whom they accused of obscure plotting with the PSD president. ‘Mircea Geoana is already assigning to him (the PM – editor’s note) tasks and instructing him about who should be the ambassador, who is good and who is bad, when he should proceed to restructuring the cabinet, he is already setting deadlines and term limits for him, so we can easily imagine what the rule will be like after this new romance has turned into an assumed relationship.

It would be, in fact, a rule by PSD, PRM and PC while PNL would be the only one to suffer the fatigue, because PNL will be the only party in the Government’, PD leader Radu Berceanu (photo) stated yesterday. He also criticized the decision of the Pm to take over the responsibilities of the foreign minister himself before the situation of the ministry is clarified by the Constitutional Court. ‘We have realised that the Premier wants to be the foreign minister as well.

I suggest he could also be the president of ANAF, in Bodu’s place (…) There are other vacancies as well, all created since he started dismissing PD people and we are gladly expecting him to fill them all’, he said. In fact, the PM’s decision to provisionally undertake Romania’s diplomatic responsibilities was looked at in doubt by Geoana, too, who was foreign minister between 2000 and 2004.

‘You cannot be a one man show’, deeming the Romanian diplomacy will lose efficiency because of the war of the palaces. At least a third of the positions on the cabinet – eight of the 23 offices of minister stipulated by the Government Organisation and Operation Law – are in suspension.

The foreign minister’s post is vacant, after the resignation of Foreign Minister Mihai Razvan Ungureanu, and the refusal of President Basescu to accept the appointment of Adrian Cioroianu made Premier Tariceanu decide he would take over the portfolio of the foreign minister himself. A similar situation can be also found at the Government Secretariat General that is still being headed by Minister Radu Stroe (PNL), who resigned. The situation at the Ministry of Communications is quite delicate, as Minister Szolt Nagy (UDMR) has been placed under investigation in the case about the privatisation deals in the energy sector.

Atmosphere is extremely tensed at the Ministry of Administration and Home Affairs and at the Ministry of Justice as well – two PD portfolios – after the PM prompted Ministers Vasile Blaga and Monica Macovei to resign.

The PD Minister of Integration, Anca Boagiu, was left without the object of work when the PM passed a decision giving all the competence of her ministry to a new department reporting directly to him. Boagiu was supposed to take over the management of the structural funds and prepare mechanisms for drawing and spending them, but, in the absence of a new law on the organisation and functioning of the Government her work has been put on hold.

The two offices of vice-premier (the one for SMEs and the one for the macro economy) were vacated last year when PD gave them up. Although they are not filled, the two positions are still mentioned in the law. In conclusion, despite the fact that PM Tariceanu has recently stated that the restructuring of the government was not a priority, the government structure needs to be revitalized and stabilized, also considering that Romania has a week to send to Brussels the assessment report based on which the European Commission may activate safeguard clauses or not. Prime Minister Tariceanu according to sources from PNL has not made his decision on whether or not to remove the Democrats from the Executive by restructuring it, and that is why he is putting off the moment.

However, the majority of people around him are pressuring him to introduce, no later than next week, a PNL-UDMR cabinet to the Parliament. The advocates of the variant count on PSD’s voting for a restructured Government, as promised.

On the other hand, Tariceanu’s advisers and people from the Government warned him that a restructured Cabinet without PD in it may not be passed by the Parliament, with votes from the Social-Democratic Opposition, because some of the PSD leaders could be blackmailed.

Tariceanu’s advisers fear Traian Basescu might convince PSD to vote against Tariceanu by giving them the leadership of the Foreign Intelligence Service.

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