Romania’s president designates new PM as crisis nears end
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania’s president on Monday nominated a new prime minister to form an unlikely coalition comprised of the ruling National Liberal Party and its former Social Democrat Party rivals, as lawmakers hope to end a protracted political crisis.
After consultations with Romania’s parliamentary parties on Monday, President Klaus Iohannis approved former army general Nicolae Ciuca of the center-right Liberals to form a government. It is Ciuca’s second mandate after he relinquished a previous one on Nov. 2 after it appeared he did not have the required parliamentary support.
After his second nomination Monday, Ciuca said Romanian citizens “expect stability and solutions” from lawmakers as they push to solve an acute COVID-19 crisis, deal with an energy crisis and set about implementing key development funds from the European Union, to which Romania belongs.
A vote of confidence is expected to be held on Thursday for the new three-party coalition made up of the Liberals, the Social Democrats, and Romania’s small ethnic Hungarian party UDMR. Between them, they hold about two-thirds of parliamentary seats.
“I hope that starting Thursday we will be able to start working seriously at the level of the government team,” Ciuca said.
Part of the deal between the new coalition partners is the concept of rotating prime ministers. Ciuca will hold the premiership position for 18 months, after which a premier from PSD will take over. The PSD will head key ministries such as finance, transport, and defense.
Romania, a country of around 19 million, has been in political turmoil for the past two months after former Liberal Prime Minister Florin Citu fired the justice minister from its junior coalition partner, USR, for not signing off on a 10 billion-euro (11.2 billion USD) regional development fund.
USR, which had expressed concerns over transparency on how the money would be managed, retaliated by withdrawing from the three-party coalition. Citu’s government was then ousted on Oct. 5 in a censure motion filed by PSD, which was supported by USR.