Romania: Viorica Dancila set to become first female prime minister

A European Parliament lawmaker has been tapped by the president to lead Romania's government. Her predecessor resigned in the wake of a fallout with leadership within his own Social Democratic party.

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis on Wednesday nominated European Parliament lawmaker Viorica Dancila to become Romania's prime minister after former premier Mihai Tudose resigned following a power struggle within the ruling Social Democratic (PSD) party.

Read more: Romania's democracy in danger after Mihai Tudose resignation

"For me it's very clear that the Social Democrats have a majority … so I weighed all arguments and decided to name their proposal for premier," said Iohannis.

Dancila is poised to become the EU country's first female prime minister and the third to assume the office in seven months if her nomination receives parliamentary approval. Opposition lawmakers have called for fresh elections, claiming the ruling PSD has been unable to create a stable government.

Politics | 16.01.2018

Mihai Tudose resigned as Romania's prime minister on Monday, making him the second PSD lawmaker to do so in seven months

'Two bad choices'

On Monday, former Prime Minister Tudose was effectively forced to resign by his party after he fell out of favor with PSD chairman Liviu Dragnea, who is barred from running due to a criminal conviction for vote-rigging.

PSD leader Dragnea said on Monday that he "made two bad choices" for premier, but that he wouldn't repeat the "mistake" this time.

Read more: Romania fights back against sham reforms

Dancila is largely seen as an ally of Dragnea. Last year, she vehemently defended legislation to change anti-corruption laws in Romania, including reforms that critics said would make it harder to prosecute corruption at high-levels of government.

The changes to the country's anti-corruption laws triggered the largest protests in Romania since the ouster of communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in 1989, prompting the government to repeal the legislation. The European Commission and the US criticized the reforms, saying it risked the country backsliding in its fight against high-level corruption.

Mass protests in Romania

2017 rallies in the capital

Demonstrators joined several rallies in the capital Bucharest in February last year to protest against the government for decriminalizing certain corruption offences. The country's left-wing government adopted an emergency law to make abuse of power punishable only when it concerns sums that exceed 200,000 lei (44,000 euros)

Mass protests in Romania

Crowds hit the streets

Protesters set fire to street signs during scuffles with police. The government claims the new laws were necessary to bring the eastern European country's criminal code in line with recent constitutional court rulings.

Mass protests in Romania

Police firing tear gas

Protesters say the proposed changes would be a blow to anti-corruption drives in Romania that have been ongoing for several years. Some demonstrators hurled bottles, firecrackers and stones at security forces, who responded by firing tear gas.

Mass protests in Romania

Nationwide riots

Hundreds of thousands of protesters braved freezing temperatures in cities across the country. President Klaus Iohanis called the adoption of the law "a day of mourning for the rule of law ... which has received a grave blow from the enemies of justice."

Mass protests in Romania

Riot police called out

Four police and two demonstrators sustained minor injuries after protests turned violent in front of the Romanian parliament, police said. Twenty protesters were arrested and a number of Molotov cocktails were seized, according to a police statement.

Mass protests in Romania

Protest in front of the government headquarters

Between 200,000 and 300,000 demonstrators were reported to have turned out. Many shouted "Thieves!" and called on the government to step down in the light of the emergency decree.

ls/kms (AFP, Reuters)

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