Romanian PM announces “small reshuffle”, possible break with governing party leader

Romanian prime minister Mihai Tudose is planning to change some of the ministers in his cabinet this week. He also says his relationship with the leader of the governing Social Democratic Party (PSD) is not “in a happy moment”. He made the statements during a talk show at Antena 3 news station on Monday evening.

The ministers targeted by the reshuffle are the three ministers targeted by investigations of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), namely deputy prime minister and regional development minister Sevil Shhaideh, EU funds minister Rovana Plumb, and the minister for the relation with the Parliament Viorel Ilie, according to PSD sources quoted by Hotnews.ro. Shhaideh, who is Dragnea’s proxy in the Tudose cabinet, and manages the money flows from the government to the local authorities, is targeted by a DNA investigation on the illegal privatization of an island on the Danube in 2013.

Besides the three investigated ministers, the PM may also want to dismiss education minister Liviu Pop and transport minister Razvan Cuc, who he has criticized on several occasions. Razvan Cuc is the protégé of Niculae Badalau, PSD’s executive president, according to Hotnews.ro.

Earlier on Monday, PSD leader Liviu Dragnea said there were no problems in his relation with the prime minister. He added that the PM had the right to decide if he wanted to change some ministers in his team, but that the party would also have to analyze the PM’s proposals before a decision is made.

The tensions between the two politicians appeared after a recent opinion poll released by a locat research institute showed that the people’s confidence in the cabinet led by Mihai Tudose has plunged dramatically over the past month while the governing party PSD has maintained its confidence quota. The prime minister suspects that PSD ordered the poll in order to get rid of him, something that Dragnea denied on Monday.

The PM said that he has thought about resigning and that he would have a talk with Dragnea on Tuesday. “I’ve said in a circle of four people that I would resign, if things are so bad and the government has lost confidence, let’s go home because we are doing things wrong,” Tudose said at Antena 3. He added that his relationship with Liviu Dragnea was not “in its happiest moment.”

The PM said that if the lack of trust in the government is not his fault then some ministers with image problems should go. He added that there were three ministers with penal problems who affected the public perception on the government and the relation with the European Commission. “If we make a reset in terms of image and governing effects, then there are at least two other ministers that I will ask to leave the cabinet.”

He said that he would have a “clarifying talk” with the governing coalition leaders on Tuesday. “Either we clear things up or someone goes home,” he added.

Mihai Tudose, 50, took over as prime minister on June 29, after the governing coalition made of PSD and the Alliance or Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) overthrew their own cabinet led by Sorin Grindeanu through a no-confidence motion.

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