Romanian deputy prime minister Marcel Ciolacu would take over as Development minister after PM Mihai Tudose would oust incumbent minister Sevil Shhaideh, sources have told HotNews.ro. Shhaideh is one of the few ministers targeted for a government reshuffle of which Tudose spoke of in a TV interview on Monday night, suggesting major splits between him and the leader of the governing Social Democratic Party (PSD), Liviu Dragnea.
Liviu Dragnea, who cannot serve as prime minister because of a corruption-related sentence, appeared to be in serious conflict with Tudose over the weekend, when an opinion poll claimed a major fall in trust for the current government. Analysts saw the poll as a means for Dragnea to pressure Tudose in complying with his push for faster changes to key laws on the functioning of Justice, which are badly needed by Dragnea and other top politicians who want to dodge the corruption charges they are facing in multiple criminal cases.
In an interview with Antena 3 news station on Monday night, Tudose reacted by saying that the alleged image issues of the government might be caused, among others, by the ministers who have criminal cases to face and who are supported by Dragnea himself. He also announced plans to remove at least two ministers, possibly more from office.
Ministers who face criminal cases in the current government are Sevil Shhaideh, Rovana Plumb and Viorel Ilie. The first two are investigated in a case related to an illegal transfer of authority over land in South Romania - the so-called Belina case - in which Liviu Dragnea himself appears to be the real beneficiary.
Sources told HotNews.ro on Monday night that the ministers targeted for reshuffle are Sevil Shhaideh, who is loyal to Dragnea, Transport minister Razvan Cuc and Education minister Liviu Pop.
Once Tudose replaces Shhaideh with Ciolacu, he would have to name a new deputy prime minister, who would most probably be someone close to the prime minister. Ciolacu is also seen as a trustful crony of Dragnea's and serves as a whip for the PSD group in the House of Deputies.