Romania’s ruling coalition splits as junior party ALDE backs out

The Liberal Democrats’ party (ALDE) led by Senate president Calin Popescu Tariceanu, which has been a part of Romania’s ruling coalition together with the Social Democratic Party (PSD) since the general election in 2016, has announced it would depart from the government after several days of tense negotiations with prime minister Viorica Dancila, according to Business-Review.eu.

ALDE leaders met on Monday and decided that the party’s ministers (Energy, Environment and Parliamentary Liaison) would resign from the Dancila government. However, Foreign Affairs minister Ramona Manescu, who had been an ALDE representative in the coalition, said she would remain in the government.

In a press conference after ALDE’s leadership meeting, Tariceanu cited issues with the national budget as envisioned by the PSD, saying that his party couldn’t support certain measures and that ALDE would turn into an opposition party. He also said he would resign as president of the Senate at the beginning of the parliamentary session in September, a position he has held since March 2014.

The PSD Executive Committee (CEx) also held an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss the party’s next steps. Sources cited by Digi24 said that the PSD leadership was even considering a resignation of the entire government, as ALDE’s departure would mean Viorica Dancila would have to manage a minority government.

But before the CEx meeting, PM Dancila wrote on Facebook that her party would continue to govern and regardless of what would happen with the coalition.

According to Romania’s constitution, a change in the political structure of the government – including the departure of a coalition party – requires the approval of Parliament, and the PSD may have a hard time securing the support of smaller parties, given the political games being played in the background.

In recent days, ALDE has been negotiating with former PM Victor Ponta’s party PRO Romania, and the two groups said they would begin a formal collaboration following ALDE’s departure from the coalition.

PRO Romania also announced on Monday that it would support independent candidate Mircea Diaconu in the upcoming presidential election. Diaconu is a former actor who was also elected as a member of the European Parliament in 2014, but has not otherwise been very active on the political scene in Romania. At the same time, Tariceanu announced that he would not run for president, and will also back Diaconu’s run.

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