The Cable

Romania Likely to Have First Female Prime Minister

But there would be another power behind her throne.

sevil-shhaideh-2015

Sevil Shhaideh may make Romanian history.

On Wednesday, her left-leaning Social Democratic Party proposed her to be prime minister.

Shhaideh would be Romania’s first female prime minister. She would also be the country’s first Muslim prime minister. Muslims make up a relatively small portion — .3 percent — of the Romanian population. Under a previous leftist government, she served as regional development minister.

Neither her demographics nor her credentials, however, are the reason for her nomination. After the Social Democratic Party’s electoral victory on Dec. 11, many expected party star Liviu Dragnea to take the title of prime minister. But Dragnea was convicted earlier this year for his role in rigging a 2012 referendum intended to impeach Traian Basescu, then-president of Romania. Thus, Dragnea is barred from the high power position.

Nevertheless, Dragnea intends to rule Romania. “If appointed, [Shhaideh] would be prime minister,” he said Wednesday, “but the political responsibility stays with me first of all.”

Still, Shhaideh does have, per Dragnea, “work capacity, knowledge of public administration and EU fund absorption and of all ministries’ operations.” And perhaps her personal background and experience will influence her country’s policy, for example, on how Europe deals with Islamophobia. In 2011, per Reuters, Shhaideh married a “Syrian-born former agriculture ministry consultant.”

Shhaideh will now need to be approved by both Parliament and President Klaus Werner Iohannis, who is expected to announce the incoming prime minister by Friday — perhaps making history in the process.

Photo credit: Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration

Emily Tamkin is a staff writer at Foreign Policy covering ambassadorial and diplomatic affairs in Washington. @emilyctamkin

Trending Now Sponsored Links by Taboola

By Taboola

More from Foreign Policy

By Taboola