Polls indicate widespread discontent among Romanians; SDP Chairman Liviu Dragnea announces possible government reshuffling
BUCHAREST – 75% of Romanians believe that things are going the wrong way, according to an opinion poll run by the Romanian Institute for Evaluation and Strategy. Only 17% of respondents are content with the way in which the country is going. 7% believe that things are going neither in the right, nor the wrong way, 2% said they do not know. 40% of Romanians said they were not quite content with the way things are going, 36% said they were quite content, 19% said they were unhappy with the way things are going, 4% said they were very happy, with 1% saying they could not tell or not answering at all. 45% are of the opinion that 2017 was worse than 2016, 30% said it was the same, 24% said it was better, with a 1% undecided option. The most important events of the year are considered the death of King Mihai I, on 5 December, the anti-government protests of January and February, with 8 percentage points each. In terms of confidence, Romanians trust the EU the most, 38%, their mayor, 31%, and the media, 31%, with the lowest confidence figures going towards Parliament, 11%, and political parties, 8%. They also believe that Romania should have a better relationship with Germany, 64%, and with the US 57%. The poll ran between December 6 and 8, and has a margin of error of 2.5%.
RESHUFFLING - Liviu Dragnea, the head of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), the main party of the leftist ruling coalition, has announced that next month he will discuss with their partners, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) about a possible government reshuffle. Dragnea has pointed out that personally, he is satisfied with the activity of the ministers and of PM Mihai Tudose. The Social Democratic leader has also said that he is against an extraordinary parliament session summoned to discuss amendments to the Criminal Codes, and he also opposes the issuing of an emergency decree on this matter. He believes that these bills must also be passed following debates, but emphasises the fact that by April 2018 the EU directive regarding the presumption of innocence and the right to fair trial must be included into the Romanian law. Other amendments to the Criminal Codes are generated by rulings of the Romanian Constitutional Court and European Court of Human Rights. The righ-of-center opposition, civil society and the media are harshly criticising the government coalition’s plan to amend the justice laws, and accuse them of trying to subordinate magistrates and put an end to the battle against corruption. Last week, embassies of seven EU member states called on all parties involved in the reform process of the Romanian justice system to avoid any action that might compromise the independence of the judicial system.
MOLDOVA – A group of deputies in the parliament of the Republic of Moldova filed a complaint with the Constitutional Court after pro-Rusian president Igor Dodon refused for a second time to appoint the seven new ministers proposed by the pro-Western government. The deputies call on the court to declare that Dodon violated the Constitution and that he can be temporarily suspended, so that an interim president could sign orders to appoint the new ministers. Radio Romania's correspondents in Chisinau say that this solution has already been applied in October in the appointment of Defense Minister Eugen Sturza. PM Pavel Filip announced he would reshuffle seven of the 13 members of the cabinet, claiming enhanced reforms. Among the nominees are two former prime ministers, Iurie Leanca, who is aimed for being Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration, and Chiril Gaburici, who is aimed to take over the economy ministry.
HANDBALL – Romania's national men's handball team plays tonight in the Yellow Cup semi-finals against Russia in Switzerland. On Saturday, depending on the results, the Romanians will play either against the host country or Serbia. On Wednesday, they defeated in a friendly match the team of the host country, Schauffhause, 32-38. After getting back home, the Romanian handballers will play on the first day of the coming year, starting training for the Carpathian Trophy, starting on January 5th, in which Portugal, Tunisia and Bahrain are taking part. Spanish coach Xavi Pascual is leading the Romanian team towards the first preliminary round of the 2019 World Championship, running between January 11 and 13 in Bolzano, Italy, where it is pit against Urkaine, Italy and the Feroe Islands. The winners in the six preliminary groups will play in June 2018 in the play-offs for the final competition in Germany and Denmark.
DEFENSE – Romanian Defense Minister Mihai Fifor, paid a visit between December 27th and 29th, to the air base in Kandahar, in southern Afghanistan, to meet with the Romanian soldiers stationed there. Minister Fifor, accompanied by the chief of the Romanian Army General Staff, General Nicolae Ciuca, thanked the officers and non-commissioned officers at the base for their participation in military missions in Afghanistan. “I am grateful for everything that you do!”, Minister Fifor said Friday in a Facebook post. Romania has been contributing since 2001 to the anti-terror coalition’s operations in Afghanistan, where around 600 military personnel are currently deployed.
PARIS – The French State Council endorsed the decision of the government to continue border checks along the inner borders of the Schengen area, in spite of the fact that the state of emergency expired at the end of October. Considering the nature of the risk of terrorism attacks and need to prevent it effectively, the State Council believes that the decision is proportional to the threat. A number of associations providing aid to foreigners called on the government to cancel its decision to keep in place border checks until April 30, 2018, in the belief that the measure gravely affects the rights of people and freedom of movement.
ROME – Italian President Sergio Matararella dissolved Parliament, opening the way to legislative elections in spring next year. The decision was made after the last Senate meeting could not gather the vote for a bill that would have granted automatic Italian citizenship to children born in the country. Radio Romania's correspondent in Italy said that Italy has practically kicked off its election campaign scheduled for March 4, 2018. Analysts expect that it will be very difficult for a coalition to form between the three main political contenders, the right, center right, and the populists of the Five Star party, pointing out the risk of a parliament without a clear majority.
Translated by Călin Coțoiu