Corruption, Embassies, and Jerusalem: Romanian Officials Face Backlash After Controversial Visit to Israel
Overstepping his Constitutional responsibilities, leading member of the dominant Romanian Social Democratic Party (SDP) and top Romanian politician, Liviu Dragnea, recently announced the Balkan nation’s intentions to transfer its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. In an effort to follow American steps, Dragnea has sparked deep internal discord with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis in recognizing Jerusalem as the capital.
Iohannis, the traditional member of the Romanian government endowed with foreign policy leadership, denounced Dragnea’s preemptive endorsement of the embassy transition without Iohannis’ prior consultation. However, following the announced opposition of Dragnea, Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, SDP, and fellow public sponsor of the move to Jerusalem, was a visit to Israel after the extension of an invitation by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Surprisingly, Dragnea left for Israel on the day of his trial for corruption allegations. Allegedly, Dragnea aided two women who were employees of SDP, in retaining their payroll status at a family welfare agency. Moreover, these are notoriously not the first accusations that have been brought against Dragnea’s activity. Currently, Dragnea is prevented from serving as Romania’s Prime Minister as a result of his conviction of vote rigging in the country’s 2016 elections. Dragnea also has had his private funds frozen after charges were made on his embezzlement of Romanian EU funding.
Corruption and bias in the Romanian government remain a prevalent and commonplace factor in day-to-day proceedings. Government officials actively are accused of seeking to undermine anti-corruption efforts and oftentimes of accepting bribes, as political efforts to adjudicate and unveil the wrongdoings are continually halted.
Following the joint culmination of events in declaring intentions with Jerusalem and on the visit to Israel, President Iohannis has publicly called for the resignation of Premier Dancila. President Iohannis stated that Dancila was unpositioned and largely jumping beyond the bounds of her political power to endorse the deal to move the embassy to Jerusalem. As Prime Minister, Dancila failed in her consultation of President Iohannis on both the relocation and on her public state visit to Israel. Consequently, Dancila appears to be unfit for her position, as President Iohannis perceives her to be contradicting the traditional scope of her position and bypassing the majority support of her party in the government to gain political edge.
As of now, Premier Dancila has yet to respond to President Iohannis’ call for her to step down. Furthermore, Dragnea remains a steadfast figure of political potency within the Romanian government despite his inability to serve a formative role. It remains to be seen if the Romanian government can come together to combat the structural corruption rampant in its political proceedings, and if there may be a considerable leadership overhaul in light of Dancila’s defiant actions.