Romanian Leader Survives Challenge From Ruling-Party Rebels

(Bloomberg) -- Romania’s de facto leader survived one of the most serious challenges yet to his position as a rebellion from within his own party was quashed.

Senior Social Democrat officials upset at the Black Sea nation’s current course had sought to topple party boss Liviu Dragnea and derail his efforts to defang an anti-corruption drive. But Dragnea, who can’t take the prime minister’s job because of a criminal conviction but runs the government from behind the scenes, was backed by the party as a whole.

Dragnea was supported by 55 members in a leadership meeting Friday, versus eight against, he said. He added that the government would discuss a cabinet shuffle after an Oct. 7 referendum on the definition of marriage.

“I’d like to stop having meetings like this one,” Dragnea said. “We have a serious mandate to continue with our programs to improve peoples’ lives, and also our commitment to have fair rule of law.”

Political instability has become a hallmark of Romania, which has had three governments in the past 1 1/2 years. The failed challenge was sparked by a dip in the Social Democrats’ popularity following plans to weaken punishments for crooked officials and after a violent crackdown by police at a recent protest.

Further afield, the government’s judicial reforms have angered the U.S. and the European Union, which Romania will lead during the bloc’s rotating presidency next year.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.