You’ve got to love the variety of English-language news reports during the past 24 hours with titles like New prime minister appointed after ruling party ousted their own government. I mean, only in Romania could something like this be seen as “normal” business. But there are some vitally important facts missing from all the international coverage.
To review, last week, PSD mafia chief Dragnea and his allies successfully managed to bring down the government of long-time PSD loyalist Sorin Grindeanu. Despite anonymous voting, it was pretty clear that Dragnea has a firm grip over his party and a loose collection of allies (including one stray PMP party member, oddly enough).
After Grindeanu was deposed, Dragnea had until yesterday to come up with a new person to nominate for prime minister. The thinking was that this would be a difficult decision because first he had to appease President Iohannis. Dragnea then chose Mihai Tudose, and Iohannis immediately signaled his approval. Assuming all goes well, Tudose will be the new PM within 10 days.
But it turns out that it was Iohannis who chose Tudose, not Dragnea. But why?
The first thing that Romanian commentators noticed was that Tudose has already been burned by a plagiarism scandal. Plagiarism was a big problem during Ponta’s reign as PM in which both he as well as at least three ministers pretty clearly had plagiarized large sections of their doctoral theses, even if Ponta did everything in his power to avoid an “official” ruling on the subject.
Tudose’s plagiarism is nothing new. Last year, he publicly asked that one of his two doctorate degrees be rescinded because it had more than 50 continuous pages of plagiarized material. Furthermore, there are strong allegations that he paid someone to copy the 50+ pages from a 2009 doctoral thesis. So why was Iohannis so quick to tell Dragnea to choose Tudose?
Well, there are two answers. The immediate answer is that Iohannis personally hates Victor Ponta. Iohannis lost the first round of the presidential race to Ponta in 2014 only to squeak out a win in the second round when the Hungarians and other political minorities who hated Ponta held their noses and voted for Iohannis instead.
If Grindeanu had remained in power, he would’ve been reliant on Ponta, his last-minute ally during the 30-day war between Dragnea and Grindeanu. Iohannis clearly didn’t want that, so he must’ve breathed a sigh of relief when Grindeanu got brought down last week. Iohannis is at least comfortable when dealing with Dragnea even if he (Iohannis) isn’t exactly enthusiastic about the partnership.
But Iohannis is enthusiastic about Tudose. From everything I’ve heard, Iohannis told Dragnea that the only name he’d accept for PM was that of Tudose. That’s a bit weird, especially since Tudose was Ponta’s economic minister for almost two years (he was Dragnea’s interim economics minister for four months). Tudose isn’t Ponta’s stooge though. On the contrary, he’s a true Communist dinosaur.
But whence all this passion for Tudose? Grindeanu was chosen for PM in January precisely because Dragnea is forbidden by law from becoming PM and so Dragnea wanted a patsy. But Tudose is no patsy. In fact, he’s as old guard as they come. And understanding that goes a long way to explaining why both Dragnea and Iohannis are both so enthusiastic about promoting a guy who barely has any national political exposure.
Red Flags Abounding
I don’t have time to do a full-length journalistic investigation into Tudose, but even a cursory glance at his biography raises some red flags.
Tudose is 49 years old (although he looks like he’s 60), meaning he was 22 years old during the 1989 Revolution. In 1992, at age 25, he joined the National Salvation Front (FSN), the weird coalition of “ex” Communists that sprang to life, nearly full-formed, once Ceausescu and his wife were gunned down against a dirty wall in Targoviste.
In 1992, the FSN got rid of Petre Roman as its leader and instead chose Ion Iliescu, who soon was elected for the second time as president of the country. The Iliescu faction of the FSN then morphed to become the PSDR and then later the PSD.
Tudose, therefore, has been a member of the PSD right from the beginning. At the same time he was becoming politically active, Tudose attended Dimitrie Cantemir University in Bucharest, graduating in 1995.
Dimitrie Cantemir is not a public university. It’s a private, for-profit network of schools that bills itself as a Christian institution that teaches primarily secular subjects. What I know for a fact is that Cantemir is pretty much a diploma mill. If you pay the exorbitant tuition, you’re almost guaranteed to graduate.
The first Dimitrie Cantemir University was founded in 1990 right after the December 1989 Revolution. It’s since expanded to campuses in Cluj-Napoca, Brasov, Targu Mures, Constanta, Sibiu, and Timisoara.
From 1992 to 1995, Tudose worked as a key senatorial aid. In 1999, he somehow (despite no formal legal education) became the legal counsel for a firm called SC Farex SA in his hometown of Braila. In 2000, he was elected for the first time as an MP for Braila.
At some point, he attended the Veterinary Medicine and Agronomy University in Bucharest where he got his first doctoral degree after writing (apparently not plagiarized) a thesis entitled “Tourism in the context of durable regional development.”
All I know about Tudor following his doctorate is that he graduated a “national security” course from the SRI’s National Security College in 2006. Also in 2006, he “participated” in a “special class” (the title unknown) at the military’s National Defense College in Bucharest. In 2007, he was the co-author (with whom I don’t know) of a paper called “Strategic Provocations” about military strategy.
This obviously paid off for Tudose in 2010 when he got his second (plagiarized) doctorate in “Military Knowledge and Information” from the National Information Academy run by the SRI in Bucharest. In 2011, he was teaching at the same school. By 2013, he effectively got tenure at the same school. Somewhere in there, he went to Georgetown University in America to take a class called “Analysis and the resolution of armed conflicts”, a course paid for by the Romanian National Defense College.
In 2014, he joined Ponta’s cabinet as the Economics Minister, a position he held until the Colectiv fire of 2015. In 2016, he was elected to represent his hometown of Braila for the fifth time. Then in February 2017, he became Grindeanu’s interim Economics Minister.
Meanwhile, Tudose has done some work for a company called Akma Consulting, run by Mocanu Elena, the mother-in-law of Traian Severin Lungu, a high-ranking SRI officer based in Braila.
On a personal level, the only thing known about Tudose is that he loves collecting stamps (he values his collection at 30,000 euros!) and playing chess. In 2001, we know that he competed to become a chess master while playing for a local club in Braila, but it’s unknown whether he still plays today.
Putting this all together, it’s pretty clear why both Dragnea and Iohannis love this guy. He is the epitome of the same crew of Communist dinosaurs and corrupt thugs which have been wreaking havoc on Romania since 1990.
Here’s what we know:
- At the age of 22, Tudose joins the FSN, later PSD
- Tudose worked closely with Iliescu, Nastase, Ponta, and then Dragnea over a 20+ year career with the PSD
- Tudose attended an expensive diploma mill school to get a degree he never used
- Tudose wrote a bullshit thesis to get a doctorate degree
- Tudose got married into an old SRI family in his hometown
- Tudose started attending SRI schools
- Tudose became a leading professor at the SRI’s university
- Tudose simultaneously became an “economics” expert
- Tudose has been the PSD’s point man on banking and the economy since 2014
- Tudose loves collecting stamps and playing chess
- Tudose’s paid-for plagariazed doctoral thesis was coordinated by Gabriel Oprea
- The United States government and the IMF are also enthusiastic about Tudose
In other words, Tudose looks exactly like the mob boss that he is. And now it’s virtually certain that he will be the next prime minister of the country.