Recent revelations of strong links between the leader of a small but influential political group and the former Communist secret police failed to prompt the withdrawal of the Conservative Party from the governing coalition this weekend, Monday newspapers report.

Also today, EU Social Affairs Commissioner Vladmir Spidla complains about the performance of Romanian welfare institutions, while a major gig by Depeche Mode in Bucharest last Friday still reverberates in the media.

The Conservative Party - PC, a junior member of the governing coalition, summoned its National Council yesterday to debate whether to remain in the government or leave following recent reports that its leader Dan Voiculescu was involved in political police activities during the Ceausescu era.

The party decided eventually to stay for six more months, but Voiculescu opted to abandon his nomination for a seat of deputy prime minister, leaving another party official, Bogdan Pascu, in his stead. PC’s continuous presence in the government would maintain the stability of the current coalition in power until Romania joins the EU on January 1, 2007 as planned.

There is nothing surprising in the Sunday decisions, Cotidianul considers, seeing a series of “simple formalities” in the PC reunion yesterday. A reunion which, the newspaper writes, was only aimed at cleaning Voiculescu’s image with the impression of democratic consultations within the group.

Gandul goes past Sunday’s events and looks into the future, more specifically at a motion tabled against the government for Wednesday.

According to the newspaper, Dan Voiculescu made sure this week-end that PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu knew about a plan conceived by President Traian Basescu and his Democratic Party to topple the government with the help of Voiculescu’s own Conservative Party and other political groups.

The same newspaper claims that Basescu’s plan included the naming of a maverick Liberal Theodor Stolojan as prime minister in a renewed government. But the plan failed after the PC reunion this weekend, as Voiculescu was forced to drop his support for a change of government by dissent within his own party.

According to Evenimentul Zilei, chances are that the situation will be solved with the early elections, probably next spring, shortly after Romania joins the EU.

The newspaper says the PC decision yesterday to stay in power for six more months effectively means the group would be part of the current government until the very end, taking into account that soon after the deadline expires the government will change anyway.

Elsewhere in the newspapers, Cotidianul reports that the only Romanian farmers that may claim European subsidies are those who own large swathes of land and with an ability to do business, taking into account the financial and land ownership pre-conditions imposed to farmers, that only apply to a handful of people.

The same newspaper publishes an interview with European Social Affairs Commissioner Vladimir Spidla, who says Romania’s accession to the EU will bring little difference to the current state of labor migration as no major changes are expected.

The same official warns that while Romanian welfare systems are compatible with those of the EU, they lack performance and prove passive and inefficient at regional level.

And he says Romanians should expect a boost in salaries once they join the EU, but only on the long term.

Newspapers also raise the issue of construction works on Romanian highways. Cotidianul reveals a series of irregularities in a recent tender for the rehabilitation of the Bucharest-Pitesti highway.

The tender, according to the newspaper, was won by a company owned by a businessman close to President Basescu with the help of certain clauses that come against the current legislation.

And Adevarul reports that while the Government has boasted that it managed to lift the secret status of a contract with US giant Bechtel, for the construction of a highway across much of Romania, former Transport minister Gheorghe Dobre admitted that part of the contract is still secret as it contains confidentiality clauses.

A major concert held by Depeche Mode in Bucharest on Friday night still draws attention of the media after a weekend of exulting reports.

According to Gandul, the event helped tens of thousands of Romanians forget the 20 years they have waited for such an event, taking into consideration the huge following DM used to have in late eighties and early nineties in Romania.

Never has the National Stadium in Bucharest hosted such a huge audience - some 44,000 people - since the Michael Jackson gigs here, last decade.