In a surprise move, Romania’s largest political party nominated a woman from the country’s Tatar minority for prime minister on Wednesday. If she wins approval from the president and Parliament, she will be both the first Muslim and the first woman to hold the post.
The Social Democratic Party scored a resounding victory in the Dec. 11 general election, winning more than 45 percent of the vote. Together with its smaller ally, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats, it holds a majority of the seats in Parliament.
Ordinarily, the leader of the largest party is designated by the country’s president to become prime minister. But the Social Democrats’ leader, Liviu Dragnea, would have been a problematic choice: He was convicted of electoral fraud and given a two-year suspended sentence in April. President Klaus Iohannis has said that the country’s next prime minister should be untainted by criminal convictions or continuing investigations.
So the Social Democrats turned instead to Sevil Shhaideh, 52, a relatively little-known figure who served as minister of regional development for six months in the last Social Democrat-led government.
“It’s a surprising choice,” said Sergiu Miscoiu, a professor of political science at Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj. “People were expecting somebody controlled by Dragnea, but from the party’s upper levels, not a relative newcomer.”
“Picking Shhaideh suggests that Dragnea will control the government without taking direct responsibility,” Professor Miscoiu added. “She is not stained in a direct way, so Iohannis has no official reason to reject her.”
Professor Miscoiu said the choice might have also been intended to counter accusations of orthodoxism and nationalism during the campaign. Referring to the Social Democratic Party, he said: “P.S.D. are saying implicitly with this nomination: ‘You accused us of being nationalist and orthodoxist — look what we do, don’t you like it?’ ”
The nomination of Ms. Shhaideh took many observers by surprise.
“We have seen many names put forward in the last days, but her name was not among them,” said Paul Ivan, a senior policy analyst at the European Policy Center in Brussels and a former Romanian diplomat.
Source: New York Times