Romania votes new government to end political crisis
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) – Romanian lawmakers voted on Thursday in favor of a new coalition government led by a former liberal army general, which could end a months-long political crisis in the country of Eastern Europe.
The vote in parliament, which was passed by an overwhelming majority, crowns a protracted political crisis that has sparked an unlikely partnership between the center-right National Liberal Party and the left-wing Social Democratic Party – former political rivals and the two largest parties in Romania.
Newly appointed Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca, former defense minister, will lead the new tripartite coalition made up of liberals, social democrats and the small Romanian ethnic Hungarian UDMR party.
Ciuca, who has served in both Afghanistan and Iraq, told parliament on Thursday that coalition members would put aside their pride and political differences in “the interests of Romanians.”
“We who are in front of you today have gone through things that separate us and we have found things that unite us,” Ciuca said. “We are determined to put an end to the tense situation we are going through. “
The 20 ministries of the country will be shared between the parties. Together, the three parties control about two-thirds of the 466 seats in the legislature.
Part of the deal between the new coalition partners, which includes increases in social spending demanded by the Social Democrats, provides that the role of the prime minister is renewed every 18 months. Ciuca will take the post first, after which a Social Democratic Prime Minister will replace him.
President Klaus Iohannis will be sworn in to the new government later Thursday.
Social Democratic Party leader Marcel Ciolacu on Thursday acknowledged the rise in energy prices and noted that Romania had been hit hard by the pandemic. “Romania needs a new path,” he said.
“It’s time to prove to Romanians that they can have a government that works for them,” Ciolacu said.
Since the beginning of September, Romania, a country of the European Union of about 19 million inhabitants, has been plagued by political unrest after former liberal Prime Minister Florin Citu sacked his partner’s justice minister junior of the USR coalition for not signing a regional development fund.
The USR, which has expressed concerns about the transparency of funds, responded by leaving the tripartite coalition. The Citu government was then overthrown on October 5 by a motion of censure tabled by the Social Democrats and supported by the USR.