Romanian president rejects left’s PM candidate
BUCHARESTRomanian president on Dec. 27 rejected the left-wing Social Democrats’ candidate for prime minister, Sevil Shhaideh, who comes from a Turkish minority and would have been the European Union’s country first female and Muslim premier.
“I have properly analyzed the arguments for and against and I have decided not to accept this proposal,”
Klaus Iohannis told reporters in a televised statement, according to AFP.
“I call on the PSD coalition to make another proposal,” he said.
He gave no reasons for his rejection of Shhaideh, who is from Romania’s small Turkish minority and a 65,000- strong Muslim community.
The PSD had put forward Shhaideh, 52, after its thumping election victory on Dec. 11 when it won 45 percent of the vote.
The PSD with its junior coalition partner and long-time ally ALDE has an outright majority in parliament of 250 members in the 465-seat, two-house assembly and will easily be able to get parliamentary approval for its government.
The leader of the PSD, Liviu Dragnea, had withdrawn his bid to become prime minister because he is serving two-year suspended sentence for electoral fraud.
This came after Iohannis made clear he would refuse any candidate with a criminal record.
Shhaideh’s political experience is limited, having served as development minister for six months before the previous PSD-led government resigned in late 2015.
This and her personal closeness to Dragnea - he was a witness at her 2011 wedding to a Syrian businessman - have stoked opposition accusations that she would merely be a puppet.
The PSD’s election triumph came barely a year since anger over a deadly nightclub fire that killed 64 people forced it and Prime Minister Victor Ponta from office.
Romania was then run by a caretaker government under technocrat Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos, 47, a former European commissioner.
The inferno inside the Colectiv club was blamed on corrupt officials turning a blind eye to a lack of fire precautions. Poor medical care exacerbated the death toll.
Brussels has long complained about corruption since Romania’s accession to the European Union in 2007 and since the fire the country has been making progress tackling it.
However a return to power by the PSD has raised concerns that progress in this area might slow.