Romania’s president calls on premier to resign; she refuses
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania’s president said Friday that the country’s first female prime minister was unfit for the job and should resign, a call she rejected hours later.
President Klaus Iohannis said that Viorica Dancila, who became premier in January, “is not up for the job of Romanian prime minister” and represented “a vulnerability” for the country.
Iohannis claimed that Dancila “prefers to execute party orders.” He was referring to Dancila’s political dependence on Social Democratic Party chairman Liviu Dragnea, who effectively runs the government.
Later Friday, Dancila said she would not resign because she had the backing of the ruling Social Democrats and was doing a good job. She is the third premier since the Social Democrats came to power in 2016.
In televised comments, Dancila said she did not show up for a meeting with the president Friday because “he gave me the impression he was summoning me to school, and I’m the prime minister.”
The president’s move signals a fresh round of political tensions between Romania’s centrist president and the left-wing government.
In calling on the prime minister to step down, Iohannis also accused her of failing to inform him about a government proposal to relocate the Romanian Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
Iohannis is in charge of foreign policy and would make a final decision on the embassy. He doesn’t have the authority to fire Dancila, but his request will put pressure on the government.
Dragnea, the Social Democratic Party leader, met with anti-corruption prosecutors Friday for an update on a probe that he embezzled European Union funds. He denies wrongdoing in the corruption case.
He said Dancila had party support, “no reason to resign” and “a job to do.” Dragnea can’t be prime minister because of a 2016 conviction for vote-rigging.
The leader of the opposition Liberal Party, Ludovic Orban, also beckoned for Dancila’s resignation, saying she was incompetent.
Earlier Friday, Iohannis said he was concerned that the Social Democrats were trying to meddle in the running of the National Bank of Romania.