Romania to vote for first female premier amid protests

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Romania to vote for first female premier amid protests
Romanian Prime Minister designate Viorica Dancila, left, speaks to media next to Social democratic party leader Liviu Dragnea, in Bucharest, Romania, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018. Romania's president Klaus Iohannis named Viorica Dancila, a member of the European Parliament and an ally of the ruling Social Democratic Party chairman Liviu Dragnea as the country's the next prime minister and potentially its first female leader.(AP Photo/Octav Ganea)

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Viorica Dancila is expected to win parliamentary approval Monday to become Romania’s first female prime minister and the third premier in a year.

The left-wing government faces protests and criticism from the European Union over legislation it is passing that critics say will make it hard to prosecute high-level corruption.

Dancila, a supporter of the proposals that include banning the use of audio and video recordings in prosecutions, is a member of the European Parliament and was a relative unknown in domestic politics until this month.

Another proposal is to hold judges personally responsible for erroneous rulings and seek to recover financial damages from them, and to limit the president from nominating or rejecting key prosecutors.

Dancila, 54, will likely act as an administrator, with government policy decided by powerful Social Democrat chairman Liviu Dragnea, who can’t be premier because of a conviction for vote-rigging.

She was booed by a small group of protesters as she arrived by car at Parliament before the vote.

A court froze Dragnea’s assets in November over a charge of embezzling EU funds. He denies wrongdoing, and like other key politicians in the ruling alliance, calls the anti-corruption agency and supporters of the drive, which include President Klaus Iohannis, “the parallel state.”

The 27 ministers, some themselves subjects of corruption probes, appeared before a parliamentary committee before the vote.

One of the four deputy prime ministers, Paul Stanescu, is facing a probe for illegally financing a soccer club while the former minister for European Funds, Rovana Plumb, saw an investigation into the illegal transfer of land halted after parliament refused to lift her immunity. She denies wrongdoing.