Reformist bloc resigns from Romanian government as political crisis continues

Ministers from the Union to Save Romania-PLUS (USR-PLUS) party filed their resignations from the Romanian coalition government today amid a growing political crisis.

The Minister for European funds Cristian Ghinea, Economy Minister Claudiu Năsui, Transport Minister Cătălin Drulă, Health Minister Ioana Mihăilă, and Research and Digitalization Minister Ciprian Teleman all resigned alongside party leader Dan Barna, who was deputy prime minister.

USR-PLUS, the second-largest member of a coalition in power since December 2020, called last week for Prime Minister Florin Cîțu of the National Liberal Party (PNL) to resign after he sacked USR-PLUS Justice Minister Stelian Ion.

Cîțu stood his ground, which led USR-PLUS to file a no-confidence motion over the weekend, in conjunction with the far-right opposition group Alliance for the Union of Romanians (AUR). The motion has been delayed in parliamentary procedures after it failed to gain the formal support of the main opposition faction, the Social Democratic Party (PSD).

The USR faced criticism for working with AUR on the motion, as top USR figures previously branded the euroskeptic, nativist party as extremist.

Barna said in a media statement that the ministerial resignations are “plan B” to cause a re-jigging of the center-right coalition, which also includes the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR).

“We want to rebuild the coalition with another prime minister,” said a USR spokeswoman via text message.

The USR-PLUS leaders are set to meet President Klaus Iohannis for talks later today.

The political crisis is playing out on a backdrop of rising coronavirus infections and deaths, and an acrimonious internal election at the PNL, with Cîțu vying for the leadership of the party against Ludovic Orban, the current leader and ex-prime minister. Orban, who is the leader of the chamber of deputies, today started the process of putting the no-confidence motion up for debate.

A spokesperson for Cîțu did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

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