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Dragnea’s cronies haunting the Commission

Romania's Commission nominee, Rovana Plumb (right), pictured at a campaign rally with former party leader, Liviu Dragnea (left) | Photo: Rovana Plumb Facebook Page

By Ioan Bucuraș

Back in late 2016, the now still governing party, PSD, received 46% of the vote in the parliamentary elections in what was an unprecedented landslide victory. Just two years and six months later, they have lost more than half of that percentage and their junior coalition partner. Not because they lost their voter hub, which stayed fairly loyal, but because the Romanian electorate was fed up with their ferocious efforts to weaken the judiciary and oust key figures that stood in the now jailed supreme leader’s way, Liviu Nicolae Dragnea, while adopting a populist and anti-European rhetoric.

Freshly re-elected MEP, Rovana Plumb, is no stranger to Romanian politics – especially not to Romania’s old establishment that is directly responsible for the slow and stuttering development of the country after the fall of Communism. She always stood behind Dragnea, whenever any deserters dared raising their voice or contesting the strongman and is suspected to have been involved in numerous lucrative business affairs with the former party leader. In October 2017 for instance, after prosecutors wanted to investigate her involvement in the Belina File, fellow party colleagues blocked any request and voted against having her parliamentary immunity lifted.

Ursula von der Leyen rejected her nomination and asked Romanian PM Dancila to propose a different candidate. Being now weakened and with no majority in parliament, Dancila had to insist with the same proposal: no one other than Plumb, Dragnea’s faithful crony.  

This has caused an uproar among Romania’s opposition parties, particularly the Alliance USR Plus and the centre-right PNL. MEPs from both parties have confirmed that Plumb’s nomination will most likely not pass parliament as the EPP and Renew Europe groups will vote against. Greens will probably follow suit, especially given the portfolio Romania received (Transport) and even some of the S&D MEPs, who have openly and vocally criticised PSD and were even considering kicking them out of the S&D group (before Dragnea was jailed and the PM promising to reform the party and renounce all anti-corruption alleviation measures) will probably also vote against.

It’s saddening to see that Dragnea, who caused havoc and held the country in political deadlock since the end of 2016, still haunts not only the governing party and Romania’s political system, but the halls of the European Commission as well.

That is unless rationality triumphs once more and Plumb is blocked by the EP.   

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