Romanian prime minister thwarted in reshuffle attempt
Jan. 08, 2018
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania's prime minister failed Monday to deliver the government reshuffle he planned as the powerful leader of his party ruled that any changes would have to wait until the end of the month.
There has been mounting speculation in Bucharest that Premier Mihai Tudose wants to replace Liviu Dragnea, the current chairman of the Social Democratic Party who is facing corruption charges, with a committee of regional leaders.
In an open letter published in Romanian media, senior party member Nicolae Badalau urged colleagues to back efforts to make the party more democratic, to be run by "a collective party leadership."
Dragnea, who can't serve as prime minister due to a 2016 conviction for vote-rigging, still enjoys the support of most regional party bosses.
While playing down talk of rifts in the party and denying he personally had a tense relationship with the prime minister, Dragnea said any reshuffle had to be conducted through normal party channels.
Dragnea said the Social Democrats would hold another party meeting at the end of the month. Tudose said he would present his plans to reshuffle the government then.
Separately, prosecutors froze Dragnea's assets in November amid a probe into the misuse of European Union funds. He denies wrongdoing.
Last year, huge anti-government protests erupted over moves to restructure Romania's justice system, which critics say would make it harder to crack down on high-level corruption.
Dragnea and his allies back the proposals.