2016-12-29 09:48:00

Romania's ruling party proposes new Prime Minister

(Vatican Radio) Romania's main ruling party wants a regional politician to become the next prime minister after the president turned down the party's first choice, an economist who could have become the country's first female Muslim premier. The standoff has plunged the country into political turmoil amid calls to impeach the president.

Listen to Stefan Bos' report:


Liviu Dragnea, chairman of the Social Democratic Party that won Romania's December 11 elections is furious. He has named 43-year-old Sorin Grindeanu to become prime minister. Grindeanu is chairman of the Timis county council, and has been deputy mayor of the city of Timisoara and a lawmaker.

Dragnea said he believes Grindeanu wants to pursue goals including "more money in Romanians' pockets, the freedom to think, to hope, to have a good health system." But he only appointed him after Romania's President Klaus Iohannis rejected the nomination of Sevil Shhaideh, who would have become the first Muslim female prime minister of this mainly Eastern Orthodox Christian nation.

President Iohannis did not say why he rejected her nomination. But critics cited her little political experience as one of the reasons.


However Social Democratic leader Dragnea said that Parliament may impeach President Ioannis. "We will conduct a quick analysis and if, following this, we reach the conclusion that it is good for the country to suspend the president, I will not hesitate," Dragnea warned.

It is also seen as a warning to Iohannis to accept the new person as prime minister. The president must formally endorse a nominee before Parliament's final approval. Dragnea himself is unable to become prime minister as he was sentenced for election fraud.

The political turmoil follows a year of tensions in Romania, after at least 64 people died in a nightclub fire, sparking massive protests.

Critics said safety regulations seem to have been ignored by corrupt officials, contributing to Romania's worst nightclub fire on record, amid wider concerns over financial wrongdoing in what is one of the European Union's poorest nations.

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