Who is Marcel Ciolacu, tipped to be the next leader of Romania’s Social Democratic Party?
Marcel Ciolacu, 52, is almost sure to be the next leader of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), one of the biggest political parties in Romania, according to local media reports. Ciolacu, who was voted Chamber of Deputies Speaker after former PSD leader Liviu Dragnea was sent to jail, at the end of May, is also the leader of the PSD Buzau organization.
He has a good relationship with many PSD organization leaders and has informally become the leader of the internal opposition to party head Viorica Dancila. On Monday, November 25, the day after Dancila was crushed in the second round of the presidential elections by incumbent president Klaus Iohannis, Marcel Ciolacu summoned some of the most influential party leaders to his office at the Chamber of Deputies to discuss the next steps.
He also reportedly visited Dancila at home and talked to her about stepping down from the party’s helm. Viorica Dancila apparently accepted to step down and name Ciolacu as her successor until a national congress will take place to elect new party leadership, according to sources quoted by Hotnews.ro.
Ciolacu also reportedly secured the support of 35 PSD local organizations. His team will include former deputy prime minister Paul Stanescu (PSD Olt), MEP Claudiu Manda (PSD Dolj), and former economy minister Niculae Badalau (PSD Giurgiu). Most of the members of the PSD Executive Committee have agreed to resign, except for former finance minister Eugen Teodorovici, the party’s executive president (second-in-command after Dancila).
Marcel Ciolacu may also reportedly bring back to the party former prime minister Mihai Tudose, currently a member of the Europea Parliament elected on PRO Romania’s list but currently in conflict with PRO Romania leader Victor Ponta. Ciolacu is also close to former prime minister Sorin Grindeanu and to the director of the Foreign Intelligence Service – SIE, Gebriel Vlase, according to G4Media.ro.
Marcel Ciolacu was also a close collaborator of former PSD leader Liviu Dragnea, who appointed him deputy prime minister in the Mihai Tudose cabinet, in June 2017. Ciolacu had no portfolio in the Government and was mainly appointed there to supervise Tudose’s actions and report them to the party leader. However, he soon turned his back on Dragnea and started working with Tudose. Ciolacu resigned from the Government immediately after Tudose, in January 2018, after they failed to gain enough support to remove Dragnea from PSD’s helm.
After Dragnea was sent to jail and removed from the party’s helm, Ciolacu was rather reserved in his relationship with the new party leader Viorica Dancila, G4Media.ro reports.
Marcel Ciolacu was one of the founding members of PSD’s organization in Buzau county. He started his political career in 1996 as a vice president of the PSD Buzau youth organization and local councilor in the city of Buzau. The two people that helped his ascension within the party were former senator Ion Vasile and former Buzau mayor Constantin Boscodeala. Between 2008 and 2012, he served as deputy mayor of Buzau and in 2012 he was elected deputy in Romania’s Parliament. He was reelected in 2016.
Ciolacu graduated from the Law Faculty of the Ecologic University in Bucharest and also studied at the National Defense College, a politics and security school. He is married and has a child.
Despite the categoric defeat of its candidate in the presidential elections, PSD remains one of the most powerful political parties in Romania. With about 500,000 registered members, PSD holds almost half of the seats in Romania's Parliament and more than half of the 3,200 mayor positions in Romania's cities and communes.
(Photo source: Marcel Ciolacu Facebook page)