Who gains from the fall of the Dăncilă government and what happens next

Inquam Photos / Octav Ganea

Almost three years after the PSD won the elections with 45% of the vote, the Dragnea-Dăncilă government has collapsed. Despite the intense campaign waged by the PSD and the huge amounts of money poured into the efforts in recent weeks to buy off lawmakers so that they don’t vote for the motion of no-confidence, the efforts made by Viorica Dăncilă and her team were not enough. All the bombastic statements made by the Social-Democratic leaders who stated they were sure that the motion would not pass proved to be baseless.

The fall of Dăncilă government puts an end to one of the darkest periods of the post-revolution history. The constant attacks of the PSD – ALDE coalition against the rule of law and justice brought Romania to the brink of an internal war. A significant part of civil society protested and even fought in the street against a political administration bent on destroying all democratic progress, especially after 2005.

Unfortunately, the attempts of the civil society to force PSD and ALDE to abandon their destructive agenda were blocked because of the parliamentary arithmetic, decided by the result of the elections in 2016. Today, the opposition (which in the meantime was joined, in an opportunistic manner, by Tariceanu, Dragnea’s accomplice until very recently) managed to cast a decisive vote against the Dragnea – Dăncilă government, finally completing the admirable effort of millions of Romanians who resisted and fought in the street against the abusive regime that is today about to become history.

The main merit for the success of the no-confidence vote lies with President Klaus Iohannis and the PNL President Ludovic Orban, who gambled everything on its success. Their statements in the last finaly days were both decisive and unequivocable, that the motion will pass, in contrast with those of USR leader Dan Barna, who expressed doubts about the success of the move. Obviously, the USR has a very important merit, that goes back some time, unlike the other parties who took their time to join the attack on the Dăncilă government.

But, in order to understand who the engine of this project was, we have to think about who would have paid a higher price in terms of image if the motion had failed? Iohannis and Orban, who made it clear that they were convinced that the motion would pass, or Barna, who expressed doubts the day before the vote?

Out of the three, who would have been more humiliated from a political point of view to see Viorica Dăncilă still at the steering wheel of the government? Obviously, Iohannis. He would have started his official election campaign with a resounding defeat. He adopted a risky strategy for someone who was leading the polls by a large margin, should have avoided risks, as time was on his side.

But these are already details in the history of the fall of Dăncilă government. It is more important to know what will happen next. Although, according to many scenarios, it is certain that Dăncilă will remain the Prime Minister for a while, I doubt that things will change that way. Why? Because President Klaus Iohannis needs to see his victory over the Dragnea-Dăncilă government all the way through and to capitalize on it in his presidential campaign.

It would not help him at all if he let things stall, with Dăncilă wandering like a zombie through Victoria Palace, all the while continuing to write checks for the PSD barons who stayed with her until the last moment.

What is the use pulling down the government if you don’t start repairing the damage it has done over the past three years, would be the question asked by all those who have impatiently waited for Dragnea and his people to disappear forever? A question that the candidate Klaus Iohannis will want to avoid at any cost, because it would only validate the accusations of passivity made by his main rival, Dan Barna.

What does this really mean? Most likely, the president will convene consultations at Cotroceni as of tomorrow, to designate the future prime minister. And this will be, for sure, his presidential campaign partner, Ludovic Orban. Will this government pass? Maybe, on first attempt, it won’t. Because of Ponta. But it’s hard to believe that in the end it won’t pass.

Will the opposition parties have anything to win from assuming the government before the elections? First of all, it is not clear whether USR will join PNL in the formation of the Executive. If the USR does not enter the government, the PNL will face a great challenge. It will be exposed to criticism from all other parties.

However, it is still to be seen how it will come out of it. It all depends on what they do. If they carry out all that the president has announced, dismantling of the Special Section for the Investigation of Magistrates, blocking the drainage of public money to the PSD clientele, canceling all the catastrophic economic measures adopted during the last three years, adopting the state budget in a form which will allow the revival of investments, they will have a lot to gain.

All the more so as they will have the opportunity to prepare for an important victory in the local elections. How? By modifying the Emergency Ordinance, adopted by the Dăncilă government after the European Parliamentary elections, through which the direct vote, given by the citizens, for the position of president of the County Council was reintroduced. The amendment would reintroduce the vote in two rounds for the local elections, for mayors, local councilors, county councilors and presidents of the County Council.

This change is likely to end the PSD’s dominance over local administrations and provide a great chance for PNL and USR to achieve a comfortable majority at the national level. If that happens, both the PNL and USR have a real chance to replicate the success in next year’s parliamentary elections. Implicitly, they have a chance to populate the future Parliament with people who can really resuscitate Romania. It is still to be seen if everyone who has a say in both parties will understand what an extraordinary opportunity they presented with.

Dan Cristian Turturică is the Editor-in-chief of Universul.net. He has been working as a journalist for 30 years. During the last 19 years, he was the editor-in-chief of ”Evenimentul zilei” and ”Romania libera” daily newspapers, and of Digi24.ro news website. Contact: dan@universul.net

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