Sunday, June 25, 2017

Romania approves left-leaning government

By on January 4, 2017

By Alison Mutler

BUCHAREST, Romania — Romania’s Parliament on Wednesday approved a left-leaning government led by Sorin Grindeanu, who vowed to stop thousands of Romanians emigrating, build highways and encourage the consumption of local produce to create what he called “a normal Romania.”

Before winning confirmation on a 295-133 vote, Grindeanu said he wanted a country “where people have the freedoms and rights that the vast majority of European citizens have.”

Romanian Prime Minister designate Sorin Grindeanu waits before a parliament session, in Bucharest, Romania, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017. Grindeanu said Wednesday he wants to stop thousands of Romanians emigrating, build highways and encourage the consumption of local produce to create what he called "a normal Romania." (Vadim Ghirda/AP)

Romanian Prime Minister designate Sorin Grindeanu waits before a parliament session, in Bucharest, Romania, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017. (Vadim Ghirda/AP)

The Cabinet will be sworn in later Wednesday by Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis.

The Cabinet includes an economist who had been poised to become the country’s first female and Muslim prime minister, but Iohannis declined to nominate Sevil Shhaide  –a political novice and member of Romania’s small Muslim minority–, after it emerged that her Syrian-born husband, who had worked at the Syrian agriculture ministry, had posted in favor of President Bashar Assad on social media.

She was then nominated as the new deputy premier and regional development minister before Wednesday’s vote.

There are concerns that the coalition government — which has 26 ministers, four more ministerial posts than the previous technocrat-led government — may seek to slow down Romania’s anti-corruption fight.

Even before the vote, ombudsman Victor Ciorbea said he would petition the Constitutional Court, saying the law that bans people with convictions from serving as ministers is not constitutional.

Grindeanu also hinted at tempering the anti-graft fight, saying it should be “firm, but equally firm should be the defense of fundamental human rights.”

He said the government planned to raise the minimum wage, to hike pensions and student grants and make free medicine widely available.

Grindeanu also vowed to stop the “exodus” of thousands of Romanians, by creating better-paid jobs in Romania and reducing pork and tomato imports, which Romania produces locally.

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