Romanian government falls after losing no-confidence vote

Romania’s center-right governing coalition has collapsed after lawmakers voted to bring down Prime Minister Florin Cîțu’s administration.

The opposition center-left Social Democratic Party (PSD) and far-right Alliance for the Unity of Romanians (AUR) were joined in supporting the no-confidence motion by ex-coalition members from the Union to Save Romania (USR, formerly known as USR-PLUS).

The government collapse could lead to early elections in Romania, which are triggered when a prime minister and their cabinet are rejected twice in a row by MPs. That could take months, leaving the country in limbo. The PSD has demanded an election as soon as possible.

Cîțu said “all options remain on the table,” including his staying on to lead a minority government, which would have drastically restricted powers compared to one supported by a majority of legislators.

“This is an absurd motion,” Cîțu said of the parliamentary vote. “Kafka would be proud,” he added, pointing to the USR’s decision to side with the opposition against the government it had been a part of.

The coalition broke down last month when the reformist USR pulled its ministers from the government due to disagreements over a local development spending plan and justice reforms.

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Dacian Cioloş, who was this week named the new leader of USR, will make a bid to replace Cîțu. But due to the party’s junior status in the former coalition, USR insiders said in televised statements they would accept a prime ministerial nomination from the National Liberal Party. The list of acceptable liberal nominees doesn’t include Cîțu, who “lacks the professional and human qualities needed to lead a Romanian government,” according to USR Vice President Dan Barna.

The political crisis compounds Romania’s woes, which include a deadly fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Romanian health care system is unable to cope with the demand for intensive care beds as only around a third of adults have received the COVID-19 vaccine, and officials say they are considering making a formal request for other countries to take coronavirus patients.

Meanwhile, the surge in energy prices sweeping Europe has also hit Romania, generating high inflation and fears about the cost of living.



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