| 26 May 2024, Sunday |

Romania’s centrist party cancels vote of confidence on PM-designate, stalemate continues

Romania’s centrist Liberals have called off a vote of confidence in their Prime Minister designate Nicolae Ciuca’s minority government line-up, which was largely expected to fail, prolonging a month-long political impasse.

Ciuca made the news late on Monday.

The vote of confidence was scheduled for Wednesday, but pundits expected Ciuca to lose after the opposition Social Democrat Party and a junior coalition, USR, stated they would not back him, leaving him short of the required majority to establish a government in parliament.

“The executive committee of our party decided to cancel my mandate and make further negotiations (with other groupings) more flexible in order to find a replacement,” Ciuca said after a marathon party meeting late on Monday.

One of the European Union’s poorest members, Romania has been in political paralysis since a Liberal-led government was toppled by parliament on Oct. 5, threatening its economic recovery and efforts to cut big budget and external shortfalls.

Romania’s president nominated Ciuca as prime minister last month, asking the retired army general to form a centrist government to end the political stalemate as rising COVID-19 infections threatened to overwhelm hospitals.

Ciuca, 54, a Liberal serving as defence minister in the current caretaker government led by Florin Citu, had drafted a cabinet line-up made of his party and ethnic Hungarian UDMR ministers, which jointly control 163 parliament seats, 71 seats short of a majority.

Analysts expected Ciuca to face a tough task convincing the fragmented legislature to back him, with the largest opposition group, the Social Democrats, saying they would only favour a cabinet made of technocrats instead of a minority set-up.

A previous Liberal coalition unravelled last month after the centrist USR, a relatively new grouping, withdrew its ministers in a row over a regional development fund, stripping the government of a parliamentary majority.

President Klaus Iohannis is expected to call fresh consultations with political parties later on Tuesday and a fresh nomination for prime minister may occur later this week.

  • Reuters