The Social Liberal Union (USL ) Government will include 22 ministries, according to an announcement made recently by Prime Minister Victor Ponta, who was also designated to run the new Government. A first draft of the ministry breakdown by parties sees the Social Democratic Party (PSD) taking over 11 mandates, while the National Liberal Party (PNL) has secured the 11 other ministerial seats, according to unnamed sources cited by Mediafax news agency. The precious Government had 16 ministries, and the extra ministries mainly come from breaking down and reorganizing existing ministries. The super-sized Government matches the largest Parliament in post-communist Romania, with 588 MPs.
There are rumors about plans for three delegate ministers to be appointed as well, with prerogatives related to social dialogue, research and the relationship with Romanians abroad, but nothing concrete has been disclosed.
“It is our long overdue promise that a delegate minister will be appointed within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to cover the Republic of Moldova and the Romanian communities abroad,” noted Prime Minister Ponta. This move is probably motivated by suspicions of electoral maneuvers in Romanian constituencies on foreign soil, he suggested.
A decision has yet to be made as to whether the relationship with the Parliamentary mandate is to be assigned at ministry or at department level.
Within the new cabinet, PSD ministers will be in charge of the Budget, Defense, Foreign Affairs, Power, Communications, Administration, Regional Development, Industry and Trade, EU Funds, Education, Environment, and Large Public Works portfolios, whereas the PNL representatives will cover Finance, Health, Culture, Agriculture, Transportation, Internal Affairs, Labor, Forests and Waters, SMEs, Tourism and the Business Environment, Justice and Economy.
Discussions on actual appointments are just beginning, with PNL nominations still to be debated among party members, national minorities most likely to be left out of the Ponta government and National Union for Romania’s Progress (UNPR) without portfolio after its merger with PSD. The Conservative Party (PC) will get its share of Government portfolios, but not at the Vice Prime Minister level.
“We have decided within the ACS (Center-Left Alliance) that, until the completion of the merger procedures, UNPR will not hold any Government portfolio, but that Mr. Oprea will act as a non-portfolio holding Vice Prime Minister and that he will support me as far as national security policies and public order are concerned,” stated Mr Ponta.
Victor Ponta also mentioned two other Vice Prime Minister portfolios, specifying that PSD’s Liviu Dragnea is to take care of decentralization and regional development issues, whereas fiscal and economy matters will be dealt with by a PNL representative at this level.
“One Vice Prime Minister position goes to the PNL, but all those who are to take over one portfolio or the other are to be decided within the PNL and only then discussed with the Prime Minister,” noted Crin Antonescu, PNL President. “Therefore, we can say that for the moment neither Mr. Chiţoiu nor anyone else is a Minister within the Ponta cabinet. No decision has been made as to a name or a candidate from the PNL because this is to be done within a time frame agreed upon with the Prime Minister”, added Antonescu.
Prime Minister Ponta has admitted some members to the new Government who have been or who are subject to a criminal investigation procedure. “Let’s take the Chiuariu case (e.n: former Justice Minister): he left the Government, almost putting an end to his political career but, fortunately, he is a young man and was ultimately acquitted,” explained Ponta. “Who will be held responsible for this? To say nothing of Atanasiu and some others… or of the famous Aunt Tamara case, when Adrian Nastase lost his position as President of the Chamber of Deputies only to be acquitted afterwards,” added Ponta.
A tentative list of prospective ministers in the Ponta cabinet includes Daniel Constantin for Agriculture, Ecaterina Andronescu for Education, Eugen Teodorovici for EU funds, Eugen Nicolăescu for Health, Iulian Iancu for Economy, Corneliu Dobritoiu for Defense, Radu Stroe for Internal Affairs and Mona Pivniceru for Justice, according to Romanian media.
The PSD and the PNL are to hold meetings of their respective National Extraordinary Councils on Wednesday and take a vote on the actual list of the Ponta cabinet members, which is promised for Wednesday at noon (December 19 ).
Ioana Jelea, [email protected]
(photo source: gov.ro)