Romanian President Klaus Iohannis on Friday demanded the resignation of PM Viorica Dancila, calling her unable to fulfill her duties as head of government. The statement comes amid excalating tensions between the head of state and the government, where Dancila is seen as a dummy PM in the hands of Social Democratic Party (PSD) leader Liviu Dragnea, the House speaker.
The President said he was withdrawing trust in the prime minister as she did not understood her duties according to the vow she took when she was sworn in office. She said all she was doing was executing party orders.
Tensions between the head of state and the duo of Viorica Dancila and her party boss Liviu Dragnea spiralled quickly over the past several days, in connection to diverging positions on the issue of Romania's embassy to Israel and friction between the government and the National Bank of Romania.
Iohannis' statements come in the wake of a visit paid by Viorica Dancila and Liviu Dragnea to Israel, as the two had raised the issue of moving the embassy to Jerusalem. The idea - initially presented as a "decision", later downgraded to a subject of debate - sparked harsh criticism from Iohannis. Nonetheless, Dancila said on her visit that her government would like to move the embassy but did not have the support of all parties.
Iohannis accused Dragnea of having "secret" interests in his visit to Israel and talk "to Jews". He later apologized for the mention of "Jews", saying there was no antisemitic sentiment involved. The slip was used by Dragnea, who retorted that there was nothing secret about his visit and that he was too complacent when it came to the President.
On Friday, a meeting between the president and Dancila was scheduled in the context of escalating tensions between the governing coalition and the National Bank, but the prime minister opted to annul the talks shortly before they were due to begin. Iohannis decided to hold the press conference to call for Dancila's resignation imediately.
Dancila is the third PSD prime minister in less than a year and a half since the PSD-led coalition won the general elections in late 2016. A former MEP, she was named PM earlier this year after the party withdrew its support for her predecessor. Coming from the same region where Liviu Dragnea served as chief local authority prior to rising to national politics, she is seen as a dummy representing the will of the House speaker. Dragnea could not stand for PM because of an election fraud-related suspended sentence.