, Bucharest, Romania, Jan 17 – Romania’s president named on Wednesday Viorica Dancila, a little-known MEP, as the EU country’s third prime minister in seven months, and also its first female premier.
“After weighing all the arguments I have decided to give the Social Democrats another chance and to nominate the person they proposed,” said centre-right President Klaus Iohannis, a fierce critic of the government.
“I hope the new government will get to work quickly to sort things out,” he said.
Late Monday Mihai Tudose resigned as prime minister after a power struggle with the head of the ruling Social Democrats (PSD), Liviu Dragnea.
Dancila, 54, who is seen as close to Dragnea, both coming from the same region, still has to be approved by parliament.
But this is seen as a formality with the PSD-led government holding a majority in parliament.
Tudose was the second PSD-appointed premier to go after his predecessor Sorin Grindeanu’s government was torpedoed by the party filing a no-confidence motion last June.
Both appeared to have fallen out with Dragnea, 55, who is himself barred from public office because of an electoral fraud conviction, but who still calls the shots as party head.
Dragnea said Monday he had “made two bad choices” for prime minister, adding that he would not make the same “mistake” this time.
“President Iohannis chose stability since provoking a political crisis would have been very bad for Romania,” Dragnea said on Wednesday.
– Motion of confidence –
Dancila, a former engineer in the oil and gas sector who is far from a household name in Romania, is a “decent, agreeable and very competent woman,” he said.
Dragnea said that parliament will convene to vote on a motion of confidence in the new government on January 29.
The PSD returned to power in December 2016 after a thumping election victory on promises of boosting wages and pensions, but it almost immediately hit problems.
In February 2017, the government proposed changes to anti-corruption laws that critics said would have let politicians off the hook.
This prompted the biggest protests since the ouster of communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in 1989, forcing the government to backtrack.
Dancila, the new prime minister designate who has been a lawmaker in the European Parliament since 2009, had staunchly defended the legislation.
Fresh demonstrations have also greeted other changes that critics — including Brussels and Washington — worry will weaken the battle against rampant graft.