Romania's Constitutional Court on Wednesday admitted a Government complaint about a constitutional conflict between it and President Klaus Iohannis over a government reshuffle request. It also ruled that the president should have accepted the change of a key minister, initially included in the reshuffle plan but openly supported by United States officials.
President Iohannis reacted by saying that the Court decision did not change the political situation at all and that the Government was compelled to go before the Parliament to pass a vote of confidence. For her part, PM Dancila said that she would go before the Parliament with a new government proposal, expecting the president to pass the revocation of reshuffled ministers immediately.
The Court said the President should have signed the decrees for the removal of ministers and acceptance of new ones. The Court also decided that the president also had to sign the revocation of Justice minister Ana Birchall, initially demanded by PM Viorica Dancila, but that the head of state did not have any obligation to name a full minister in her place, for which a controversial magistrate had been nominated.
The constitutional dispute appeared when the head of the Social Democratic (PSD) government Viorica Dancila called for a government reshuffle and President Iohannis rejected the move. Both Dancila and Iohannis are due to join the race for presidential elections due later this fall.
The president consistently rejected all attempts by the prime minister to change her team.
And Dancila tabled a complaint at the Constitutional Court, challenging the behaviour of the President.
- Among the initial wave of proposed changes, PM Dancila targeted Justice minister Ana Birchall, opting to change her with Dana Girbovan, a magistrate and NGO head strongly associated with PSD-led moves to subdue the judiciary politically. But the US Department of State openly voiced support for Birchall and eventually the call for her replacement was dropped.
Now, the Constitutional Court decided that it was the PM's duty to revoke and establish interim ministers and the President had to sign decrees in this regard. The Court decided that the President had to sign the decree for Birchall's revocation, but did not have to name a full minister instead.
Iohannis, the Court said, had the same duty in the case of the revocation request regarding deputy PM for strategic partnerships Mihai Fifor, a position for which Ana Birchall was considered in the reshuffle plan.