Romania’s ruling National Liberal Party on Monday reshuffled key party positions and created new ones after Prime Minister Florin Citu won the party leadership race.
The premier named dozens of allies to posts that focus on business, foreign policy, minorities and national security after defeating former party leader, Ludovic Orban.
The 49-year-old Western-educated banker is backed by President Klaus Iohannis who used to lead the Liberal Party. He is indisputably the most powerful politician in Romania and most likely agreed with the new picks.
Fresh from his bust-up with his predecessor, Mr Citu on Monday also announced more than two dozen deputy chairman for geographical areas and for areas of expertise. The list reads like a shadow Cabinet, should the Liberals which head a minority government be ousted before 2024 parliamentary elections.
Lawmaker Alexandru Muraru, the prime minister’s adviser for anti-Semitism and Holocaust, was named deputy chairman for culture, religion and minorities.
Defense Minister Nicolae Ciuca was appointed deputy chairman for defense and national security. Lawmaker Robert Sighiartău, 32, was picked as deputy chairman for foreign policy and European affairs.
The prime minister also named his four deputies in charge of civil society, business, international relations and public policy.
After a bitter contest with Premier Citu, former party chairman Mr Orban resigned as head of the Chamber of Deputies.
That position is the fourth most important in the state hierarchy and the Liberals stand to lose it if they fail to woo back a junior partner that walked out of the government over the firing of their justice minister.
That party, known by its acronym USR-Plus, is currently embroiled in its own messy leadership race.
Mr. Orban, 58, a former prime minister and one of Romania’s most senior politicians retains his seat as a lawmaker. But there is bad blood between him and the premier, and it remains to be seen whether he will leave the center-right party he’s been a member of since the 1990s.
The situation remains febrile after a bitter two-month party leadership contest.
It is possible that Orban’s allies will quit. That would be a blow to the group which is juggling a minority government, the pandemic and energy price hikes.
The obvious winners are President Iohannis and the prime minister who consolidated his power after winning more than 60% of the votes on Saturday.
The government could still face a censure vote in parliament. Some commentators say the opposition Social Democrats whose votes could dismiss the government would prefer to remain for the moment on the sidelines.
After losing the party leadership race, Mr Orban said: „Citu remains premier due to the mercy of the Social Democrats.”