In her own words. Romania’s first woman prime minister Viorica Dancila to ‘dish the dirt’ on party colleagues in upcoming book

Foto: Inquam Photos / Alexandru Busca

Political memoirs are uncommon in Romania which makes an upcoming book by Romania’s first female prime minister, Viorica Dancila, even more interesting than the usual revelations of a politician who has recently left office.

Ms. Dancila has been accused of many things: of being a puppet; she’s been called a traitor, and even semi-literate among other unflattering things.

But now, 14 months after her government was ousted in a no-confidence vote and her subsequent humiliating loss to President Klaus Iohannis in the 2019 presidential election, the former premier is back in the public eye with a book.

The book which will be published shortly will tell her side of the story, providing both inside gossip for readers, and making uncomfortable reading for past and present leaders of the Social Democratic Party who she claimed sabotaged her when she was prime minister and party leader.

 Ms Dancila, 57, doesn’t pretend to have written the book “Viorica Dancila- Her side of the  Story” which is framed as an interview with journalist Marga Nitu. But she does want to set the record straight, she says.

Some of her harshest criticism is directed at onetime benefactor Liviu Dragnea, currently serving a 3 ½ year prison sentence over a fake jobs case, where he made the local social welfare office pay the salaries of two women for six years who were actually working for the Social Democrats.

Mr Dragnea plucked Viorica Dancila, a European Parliament lawmaker, from relative obscurity and placed her in the position of prime minister, a job she held from January 2018 until November 2019.

The onetime strongman who couldn’t be prime minister himself due to a previous conviction for voting fraud put pressure on her to pass an amnesty that would have allowed him to stand for office and spared him prison in another case, she said.

Publishing excerpts from the book, she recalls being at the prime minister’s country residence with her husband when Mr Dragnea and another party leader paid her a visit and asked her to pass an amnesty which would be forwarded to her office from a government official.

„I thought that justice shouldn’t depend on politics…. Many accused me of treachery but no minister presented me with that kind of judicial act during a government meeting,” she said.

She hit out at Liviu Dragnea accusing him of planting informers around her and of having trust issues, after orchestrating the dismissal of two former prime ministers.

“I think my informers weren’t just excessively zealous, but they wanted to show how important and useful they were to the boss. It was hard being kept tabs on. Liviu Dragnea wanted to have people around me who told him everything that happened in the government.”

She has similarly harsh words for the current party leader Marcel Ciolacu, who along with other party members, tried to pressure her into resigning as party leader and step down as presidential candidate.

After she lost elections by a wide margin, she said Marcel Ciolacu visited her at home to convince her to step down as party leader, offering her a seat in Parliament in 2020 elections, something which didn’t happen.

“He called me and said we should speak. He came to my home and put on an act. He sat on the sofa and told me with tears in his eyes that he was very sorry about everything that happened. I made him a fruit tea because he seemed very upset.”

The former premier also expressed, rather unconvincingly, her regret about an anti-government protest that turned violent on August 10, 2018.

Tens of thousands of protesters rallied against the government on in cities across Romania and in the capital where riot police fired tear gas into the crowd and hundreds needed medical attention. The long-planned protest was organized and promoted by Romanians abroad.

“I regret what happened and that I wasn’t at the government in that evening. Maybe if I was there, the situation wouldn’t have happened. I couldn’t have anticipated what would have happened,” she claimed.

The former premier says she deliberately postponed publication of her book until after 2020 parliamentary elections, to not affect the outcome.

“However, there are things that need to be said.”

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