How will the government reshuffle that buries the PNL take place /…

How will the government reshuffle that buries the PNL take place / Ciolacu’s bet

The change at the top of the government will take place without major political shake-ups in the coalition, nor within the PNL or PSD, according to information obtained by G4Media.ro. The only ones worried about losing a ministry are the UDMR, but it’s hard to believe they’ll go all the way to leaving the government.

Prime Minister Nicolae Ciucă will hand in his PM resignation on 26 May, after Ascension Day and Heroes’ Day.

President Klaus Iohannis will most likely appoint Marcel Ciolacu as prime minister. Any attempt to play around with the timing of the rotation or the name of the next prime minister has been thwarted by all the signals received, including during the visit to Bucharest of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans.

Ciolacu’s influential friends in the European Socialist group would have made sure, among other things, that the rotation would take place exactly and on time.

Romania has also been told through other channels that it needs political stability in the context of the war in Ukraine. We remain pretty much the only predictable country in Eastern Europe. Hungary can no longer be relied on, Bulgaria has been ungovernable for two years.

Two weeks before the rotary, Prime Minister Nicolae Ciucă seems determined to remain in the government, as deputy prime minister and eventual interior minister, thus as Marcel Ciolacu’s subordinate.

If he finally refuses to go to the Senate, i.e. to be the second man in the state, and prefers an executive position in the Government, we will have yet another confirmation that the PNL leader is not a political man, but a man of hierarchy, of the system. Ciucă seems to follow a personal plan. He doesn’t cross paths much with the Liberals.

To stand a chance in next year’s elections, the PNL should have moved to the opposition, got rid of Ciucă quickly and let the PSD with a minority government do what they can. But among the Liberals there is not much support at the moment, apart from two or three isolated voices, for leaving the government.

The two major parties are bound to stay together. There are occasional conflicts brewing between the PSD and the Liberals at local level. At the centre, the PNL is trying to make up for it with frail media attacks on the PSD. These are likely to multiply after Marcel Ciolacu becomes prime minister. Still, it is far too little to stop the PNL’s fall in the polls.

As long as the PNL and the PSD go into the election campaign arm in arm, the Liberals will be seen by voters as an appendage of the PSD and nothing more, the government’s trailer, Ciolacu’s lowly minions.

The rotation would have been a good opportunity to freshen up the line-up of ministers, but the changes look unlikely to be significant. From the PSD will most likely leave the Minister of Agriculture, Petre Daea, the Minister of Economy, Florin Spătaru and the Minister of Labour, Marius Budăi.

From the PNL will leave the Minister of Entrepreneurship and Tourism, Constantin Daniel Cadariu. There are also complaints about Marcel Boloș at the ministry of European projects. Expendable characters, no political ambitions, nothing relevant.

If Prime Minister Ciucă takes over the interior, Lucian Bode will leave the government, but not because of plagiarism, as President Iohannis himself asked, but because his boss took his place.

It is not clear yet whether the protocol will be respected exactly, i.e. transport and finance will go to the PNL, while justice and the ministry of European projects will go to the PSD. If there will be some changes here too, Grindeanu will probably go to the Chamber. Burduja would move from digitalisation to finance or Klaus Iohannis will impose Cosmin Marinescu, presidential adviser, there.

Another likely to move up the pecking order will be Marian Neacșu, who is a PES member, from secretary-general of the government to deputy prime minister without portfolio. Ciolacu’s most trusted man is expected to liaise with the territory on major projects.

The only unknown is whether the UDMR will lose the Environment Ministry, which would go to the Liberals as compensation if they don’t get transport from the PES. Whether they lose it or not, whether they stay in government or not, is of zero political importance. Most likely, the RMDSP will not leave the government, no matter how loud they scream now.

PNL and PSD have enough votes to govern together.

That’s pretty much the picture right now. In this frozen picture, the big loser is the PNL. With Nicolae Ciucă kept in the government as Marcel Ciolacu’s subordinate, the Liberals will continue to fall in the polls. They have already become the third party after AUR.

Ciucă, this weak leader, lacking charisma and political talent, also wants to be nominated as a presidential candidate. It will happen quickly, by fall. From then on, no one will talk about him until the European Parliament elections in June 2024. After that, we could see major internal turmoil that could split the PNL into two factions, pro and anti-PSD.

The score of the first real confrontation with the electorate will be the moment of truth for all parties. That’s when the presidential candidates will really be decided. Only in a year’s time will we have the first set of winners and losers, determined by vote. The guillotine of elections will still operate mercilessly.

Marcel Ciolacu’s bet is that the prime ministership will not affect his chances for the presidency and that, if he makes a decent showing at the Victoria Palace, he will have the first chance at the Cotroceni in 2024.

If the PSD stays up and the PNL falls to third or even fourth place after the Europarliamentary elections, all the better. Ciolacu’s interest is for AUR to grow, to swell and he will enter the second round of the presidential election with the candidate of an extremist party, a danger to democracy.

At this point, the Iliescu-Vadim scenario of 2000 would be repeated, when the „lesser evil” was voted in. The stars are aligned for the PSD to have the first chance after 20 years to win full power in the state.

Ciolacu’s gamble may be a winner if he is not swept out of government by a major economic crisis, major errors in governance, the arrogance of the PSD that is on display when they take a lot of power, or a Black Swan, i.e. an unforeseen event with destructive effects for the PSD. Romania has never been in short supply of Black Swans.

In a country like this, with a shattered infrastructure, big social problems, and an ever unpredictable shadow power, the question is not whether Black Swans will come, but when will they appear?

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2 comentarii

  1. Ciolacu’s sounds like a shady joint where small time mobsters would gather.
    Like Goodfellas, if it was filmed in Moldova.