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Former Romania PM quits ruling Social Democrats

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(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 10, 2017 Romania’s then Prime Minister Mihai Tudose arrives to speak to the press after a meeting at the headquarters of the Social Democrat Party (PSD) in Bucharest. – Former prime minister Mihai Tudose has quit Romania’s ruling Social Democrats in a move observers say will weaken the parliamentary majority of the left-wing party and its strongman leader, Liviu Dragnea. (Photo by DANIEL MIHAILESCU / AFP)

Former prime minister Mihai Tudose has quit Romania’s ruling Social Democrats (PSD) further weakening the parliamentary grip of the party and its leader, Liviu Dragnea, after a series of defections.

Tudose, who was Romania’s prime minister between June 2017 and January 2018, announced the news via his Facebook account on Tuesday.

He was defecting to the newly formed social-liberal party Pro Romania because he felt that Dragnea had hijacked the PSD for his own political ambitions, he wrote.

“I note with sadness that the party’s current leadership has replaced the public agenda with a personal one”, wrote the 51-year-old politician.

“My resignation is a gesture with which I want to distance myself from the way in which the party and the country is run.”

Tudose will continue to sit in the lower house of parliament as a member of the Pro Romania party.

He follows a number of other leading PSD members who have already quit to join Pro Romania, set up last year by another former premier, Victor Ponta.

They include EU Commissioner Corina Cretu, who has announced she will run as a Pro Romania candidate in the EU parliamentary elections in May.

The defections mean that the PSD-led ruling coalition has now lost the absolute majority it held in the lower house after the 2016 election.

The ruling coalition of the PSD and the liberal democratic ALDE has repeatedly clashed with the country’s president, Klaus Iohannis, and the European Union over judicial reforms its critics say will hamper the fight against corruption.

Dragnea, the head of the PSD, was barred from becoming prime minister because of criminal convictions, one of which is currently pending appeal.

He is nevertheless widely seen as Romania’s most powerful politician and puppet master to the prime minister, Viorica Dancila. But he has repeatedly come under fire for his autocratic style.

After winning the election in late 2016, the PSD-led government attempted to water down anti-corruption legislation but was forced to abandon the plans in face of the country’s biggest wave of protests since the collapse of communism in 1989.


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