Romania could soon have its first Muslim prime minister

Sevil Shhaideh

Romania could soon have its first female prime minister.

President Klaus Iohannis said on Thursday that he would appoint a prime minister after Sunday after assessing a proposal made by the Social Democrat Party (PSD), the winners of a recent parliamentary election.

Liviu Dragnea, chairman of the PSD, proposed that Sevil Shhaideh take the post of prime minister.

Shhaideh, 52, is a party member but did not run as a member of parliament in the election. She was the minister for regional development for six months in 2015, and is currently an official in the regional development ministry.

If approved by parliament, she would also become the country’s first Muslim prime minister.

Dragnea, who continues as head of the party, is expected to have significant influence over a government headed by Shhaideh.

“If appointed, she would be prime minister, but the political responsibility stays with me first of all,” Dragnea said, praising Shhaideh for her knowledge of public administration and for being hard-working and loyal.

The left-leaning Social Democrats easily won the December 11 parliamentary election, but did not secure a majority and will govern with a minority partner.

Shhaideh studied at the Faculty of Economic Planning and Cybernetics of the Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest. She graduated there in 1987 and immediately began work on the agricultural mechanization project in Constanţa. In 1991 she became responsible for the computer systems of the Departmental Directorate of Labor and Social Protection (DJMPS).

She was chosen in 2012 as Secretary of State of the new Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration. And in 2015 she was appointed Minister of Regional Development and Public Administration.

Islam in Romania is followed by only 0.3 percent of population, but has 700 years of tradition in Northern Dobruja, a region on the Black Sea coast which was part of the Ottoman Empire for almost five centuries (ca. 1420-1878).

In present-day Romania, most adherents to Islam belong to the Tatar and Turkish ethnic communities and are Sunnis.

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