Health Minister’s ouster continues to rock the Romanian political world

Health Minister’s ouster continues to rock the Romanian political world

The crisis that has burst upon the ruling coalition continues to rage. Almost one week after the sacking of Health Minister Vlad Voiculescu, the PNL and the USR-PLUS have yet to reach an agreement. The Liberals have distanced themselves from Florin Citu as the USR-PLUS adamantly states that the Prime Minister no longer enjoys their support. At the request of USR-PLUS, the governing coalition kicked off a meeting at 17.00 (local time).

The leaders of the USR-PLUS are planning to make the Liberals a new political proposal that flatly outlines the procedure to be followed in the event of a reshuffle, as well as a timetable for the commitments made in the government program. The proposal is said to have been drafted by Dacian Cioloș and is still under discussion.

Earlier today, the PNL Executive Board was called in session. Speaking after the meeting, party chairman Ludovic Orban stressed that the PNL is a serious party operating with good governance in mind. He stressed that the Prime Minister enjoys the full support of the party. We are consistent, Orban said, and we are moving forward. He also asked the Liberals “not to play the USR-PLUS game”. “Any minister who attacks the government must leave,” he said.

For his part, Prime Minister Cițu said in his statements that, during the meeting, he referred to the progression of the vaccination effort and the measures he will take, the negotiations for the PNRR program in order for it to reflect the coalition’s development vision, but also to the forecasts of the S&P rating agency. Citu assured all members of the government that their evaluation would be based upon their work and not their statements.

Arriving at the meeting at the PNL HQs, First Vice President Raluca Turcan stressed that “as long as we have a Prime Minister, he must be respected and has every right to exercise his powers. The Coalition must show composure and start presenting citizens with results the ministers have achieved in their areas of expertise. I believe that the people expect more responsibility, seriousness and determination from us to carry out a government program aimed at improving the quality of life,” Turcan said when asked how the crisis in the coalition would be resolved.

Asked about the Ministry of Health’s document and the controversy over the underestimation of the COVID-19 death toll, Turcan replied: “I think ping-pong statements from a former minister to a caretaker Prime Minister are very harmful, not necessarily for those who hold ministerial posts, but for those who have their eyes on this coalition, which has a job to do: Reforms and good quality public services.”

PNL Vice President and MEP Rares Bogdan said the PNL leaders had not met with President Klaus Iohannis since the crisis erupted in the ruling coalition, however USR President Dan Barna spoke with him on Thursday. “Klaus Iohannis (…) knows that Romania needs a stable government (…) I am convinced that he is very upset because he wants reforms (…) We in the PNL have not met with the President,” Bogdan said. He commented that no one would have had as much patience with the former Minister of Health as the Prime Minister did.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health, referring to the decision of Andreea Moldovan as Undersecretary of State to verify the number of COVID cases, stressed that this was an internal document and not an order or directive, an administrative document of a regulatory or individual nature, clarifying that the Ministry currently has no legally established working group to verify reports of COVID-19 deaths. It called on Vlad Voiculescu to “stop spreading false information and baseless allegations to the public.”

The Prime Minister expects from the USR PLUS a candidate to head the Ministry of Health. Political sources told that this could be Dr. Radu Lupescu, who was honored by French President Emmanuel Macron for his involvement in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. Another option under consideration by the PLUS is Undersecretary of Health Ioana Mihăilă. The case of Dr. Adrian Wiener (USR) was initially being considered as a possible replacement for Vlad Voiculescu, however the post falls under PLUS jurisdiction.

The UDMR has announced since the beginning of the crisis that it supports Prime Minister Florin Cîțu.

Asked at a news conference when the PSD would file a motion of censure, party spokesman Radu Oprea said: “It all depends on what the rulers decide today, because if the USR-PLUS wants to leave the government, the motion of censure loses its meaning. Of course the PSD will not vote for a new Ciţu government at all and we will also not support any minority government.” /ibna