Viorica Dancila has been the prime minister of Romania since late-January this year, being the third prime minister of the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD) since the party won the parliamentary elections in December 2016. She is also the first woman in Romanian history to hold the office of prime minister.
However, while the government and the prime minister try to promote their achievements, Dancila's blunders have been making the front page more often, especially as some of them were quite serious. In addition to the many grammatical gaffes, Dancila also made some very serious protocol mistakes during meetings with international officials. And all of them were criticized by the opposition and taxed by the Romanians on social media, fueling many jokes.
Viorica Dancila was prime minister of Romania for about two weeks when she made the first controversial statement. In mid-February, she said that those “who misinform the EU despite the fact that they know the truth” are “autistic”. The statement was immediately criticized by several local NGOs, and the PM apologized the next day.
Since then, her entire mandate has been marked by countless grammatical mistakes, made not only during government meetings but also in public speeches, press statements or meetings with international officials. One of the first such mistakes was made during a cabinet meeting in March, when Dancila said imunoglobina (imunoglobin) six times instead of the correct form imunoglobulina (immunoglobulin). During another government meeting she said “we are reducing democracy” instead of “we are reducing bureaucracy”.
Another mistake she made during one of the meetings with her ministers was the one in which she once again confused two words and ended up using the wrong one. She said “Dorim sa ne anexam pe preventie”, which would translate as “We wish to join prevention”. The correct form would have been “Dorim sa ne axam pe preventie,” which would translate as “We wish to focus on prevention.”
She also made several grammatical mistakes during her speech in the Parliament when the no-confidence motion against her cabinet was debated. For example, she said Banca Monetara (the Monetary Bank) instead of Banca Mondiala (the World Bank). However, one of the grammatical gaffes that marked the mandate of Viorica Dancila was made during a press statement. When the press asked her if she is afraid of a criminal complaint, the prime minister replied: “Orice om ii este teama de o plangere penala,” instead of the correct form “Oricarui om ii este teama de o plangere penala” (Everyone is afraid of a criminal complaint).
More recently, in late-September, during her discussion with the Social Democrat members of the European Parliament in Brussels, the prime minister said the protestanti (protestants in English) beat a woman gendarme, instead of protestatari (protesters). She was talking about the violent incidents during the August 10 anti-government protest in Bucharest’s Victoriei Square.
However, the Romanian prime minister also made a series of mistakes that some said were proofs of her poor English. For example, during a meeting in April with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, Viorica Dancila answered only with “He, he!” after her Israeli counterpart welcomed her with “It’s a pleasure to see you!”.
Then, in May, she told Pope Francis: “Sfintia Voastra, I am very glad for this opportunity,” using the Romanian form of address “Sfintia Voastra” instead of “Your Holiness.” Thus, she was once again criticized for her poor English.
Also in May, the English language once again betrayed the Romanian prime minister, when she asked the Croatian PM Andrej Plenković: “Make a photo?”. In fact the entire meeting between the two was marked by several protocol mistakes of the Romanian prime minister. Andrej Plenković had to discreetly guide Viorica Dancila through several moments of the ceremony before the meeting, such as the ones when the two had to listen to the national anthems or salute the national guard.
Another month, another bilateral meeting of the Romanian prime minister sprinkled with gaffes. In mid-June, Viorica Dancila forgot the name of her Estonian counterpart, Jüri Ratas, at a joint press conference held in Constanta. Moreover, the Romanian PM had to pass through yet another awkward moment during her meeting with Ratas, as the organizers placed the flag of Estonia in reverse. While no one from the Romanian delegation noticed the mistake, the Estonian prime minister corrected the diplomatic gaffe himself.
However, one of the most serious diplomatic mistakes of Viorica Dancila was in July, when she confused the capital of Montenegro with that of Kosovo. During her visit in Montenegro’s capital Podgorica, the Romanian PM said she was happy to be in Pristina. The translator, however, said the correct name. Two days later, during her visit in the Republic of Macedonia, she called the citizens of this country macedoni (Macedons) instead of macedoneni (Macedonians). At the same press conference, Dancila said she is the first prime minister to visit the Republic of Macedonia. She forgot to mention she is referring to prime ministers of Romania.
In September, Viorica Dancila had to go through yet another awkward situation, as she missed a meeting at the airport with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. The EC official came to Bucharest to participate at the Thee Seas Initiative summit and was supposed to be welcomed at the airport by prime minister Dancila. However, she arrived at the Baneasa Airport just as the motorcade provided by the Romanian authorities to the EC official was leaving. The government said the Romanian prime minister was not late at the rendezvous, the reason for this unfortunate event being the fact that the EC president arrived earlier than planned and that the secret service in charge with the protection of dignitaries – SPP took him from the aircraft’s scale straight to the hotel.
The latest strange situation the Romanian prime minister had to face happened earlier this month, when the helicopter that was supposed to take her to Slobozia-Roznov, where the PM was supposed to see the effects of the flooding on the Cracau river, landed in another village. When they got out of the helicopter, the PM and the other ministers that accompanied her were surprised that there was nobody there to welcome them. Once they realized the mistake, they got back aboard and flew to the right destination.
All these awkward moments and blunders of the Romanian prime minister may be the main reason why, in late-September, Liviu Dragnea, the leader of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), prevented Viorica Dancila from taking questions at a press conference. She stood besides Dragnea during the entire conference but didn’t say a word. Similar to the other strange situations and gaffes of the PM, many Facebook reactions emerged afterwards. Among them, a video showing Dancila standing in an elevator without saying anything.
Irina Marica, [email protected]
(Photo source: Gov.ro)