How competent is Romania's new prime minister?

Just under four weeks after the parliamentary elections Romania has a new government. Sorin Grindeanu of the social democratic PSD was sworn in as the head of the new social-liberal government on Wednesday. Romania's press has nothing good to say about the new prime minister and his cabinet.

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România Liberă (RO) /

From backbencher to prime minister

Romania's new government oozes mediocrity, România Liberă complains and targets one person in particular:

“[Prime Minister] Grindeanu is living proof of that mediocrity. He rose to power thanks to political intrigues. … In his four years as a parliamentarian he spoke for only 75 seconds in parliament: when he swore his oath. He was a member of the supervisory committee of the domestic security agency SRI at a time when it was engulfed by scandals. Back then he never said a word. … When Ponta became prime minister in 2012 at least he had a political career behind him and wanted to show that not only members of the nomenklatura could make it to the top in his party. Not that Ponta should be praised, but [PSD leader] Dragnea [along with this government] is below even the low standards of those times. The new government is a gang of PSD local barons. … Grindeanu is a good example of this, but not the only one.”

Krónika (RO) /

A scandalous cabinet

Not only the prime minister but his entire cabinet are questionable, the Hungarian-language newspaper Krónika adds:

“From the Hungarian point of view what is most upsetting is that Lia Olguţa Vasilescu, a woman who began her career in the far-right Greater Romania Party, has been given a place in the cabinet. Her hatred of Hungary alone should be enough to prevent her from being entrusted with a ministerial post in a country in which a large Hungarian minority lives. But not only that: she is also under investigation by the national anti-corruption authority on suspicions of bribery and money laundering. Marius Dunca's appointment as minister for youth policy is also regrettable, in fact downright annoying. Dunca was the first politician to be held accountable and dismissed after the tragedy at the Colectiv disco. Clearly a minister's past is irrelevant - all that counts is that he is a good party soldier. ”

Ziare (RO) /

A secret service man

With the new prime minister Romania's intelligence service is gaining far too much power in the state, Ziare complains:

“When the party that won the elections and has a majority in parliament proposes as prime minister a member with such close ties to the intelligence services and who was a member of the parliamentary committee that was to monitor Romania's SRI domestic intelligence service and who completed a course at the national SRI academy, not much more needs to be said on the subject of domestic policy. This is all the more conspicuous given the chorus of voices in our easily manipulated press saying that it's not so bad that the intelligence service is infiltrating the political sphere. They are acting as if it were normal for the prime minister of a powerful country to be appointed directly by the intelligence service or to be suspected of being an undercover informant.”

Gândul (RO) /

A stooge for the leader of the PSD

The new Romanian prime minister's secret service ties are, however, not the biggest problem according to Gândul:

“Grindeanu was examined by the [domestic intelligence service] SRI. He was given the green light as far as national security is concerned. This is not something that detracts from his honour in any way: parliamentarians all over the world, including in the US, complete secret service courses - from presidents to government officials who deal with classified documents. Some see such courses as a bonus point on their CV. For others they violate ethical principles. To claim this applies in the case of Sorin Grindeanu would require more evidence than just a little secret service course. But to be blunt: Sorin Grindeanu is just a kind of 'proxy prime minister' for [PSD leader] Liviu Dragnea - just as Sevil Shhaideh would have been.”