Romanian Government Falls after No-Confidence Vote
Romania's parliament overthrew Prime Minister Florin Katsu's minority government, which has ruled for just nine months. The country, which along with Bulgaria is one of the poorest members of the European Union, has been in political stagnation for more than a month, threatening the pace of economic recovery and tackling the pandemic.
"Katsu's government fell by far more votes than the required minimum (of 234 votes)," an opposition lawmaker told Reuters. The final count shows that 281 deputies and senators voted to remove Katsu, who will remain acting prime minister until his successor is elected. Key parties have said they will work to return the previous majority coalition to power soon.
Katsu's coalition disintegrated last month after the centrist Solidarity Party (USR) withdrew its ministers after a dispute over the management of a regional development fund, depriving it of a parliamentary majority. The USR demanded a no-confidence vote in parliament, refusing to return to the government until Katsu was ousted.
New USR leader Dacian Ciolos has proposed a list of names for Katsu's successor. According to party Vice President Dan Brana Katsu, "he does not have the professional and human qualities needed to lead a Romanian government."
New elections are unlikely
President Klaus Johannes has called on political parties to hold consultations next week to form a new government before appointing a new prime minister. Most likely, his proposal will be again from Katsu's party, Reuters reports.
"Romania needs to be governed. We are in a pandemic, a crisis in energy prices ... and now a political crisis. We need a more mature (political) position than ever," Johannes told reporters. "In order to give the parties more time to find a solution, I will not call for consultations until next week."
The agency predicts early elections are unlikely, as parliament will have to reject two consecutive prime ministerial proposals by President Johannes within 60 days, and coalition parties say they are willing to rebuild the government quickly given the current economic challenges. Johannes and coalition partners, including Hungary's ethnic UDMR and USR, said the current, tripartite, reform-oriented political structure is the best recipe for Romania, while responsible for a 29.2 billion-euro recovery plan backed by the EU.
"We support the possible re-establishment of our centrist ruling coalition," said Dan Barna.
Katsu said "all options remain on the table", including his remaining to lead a minority government that would have drastically limited powers compared to those backed by a majority of lawmakers.
The political crisis is complicating the situation in Romania, which is battling a severe fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic. The health system is unable to cope with the shortage of intensive care beds, as only about a third of adults have been vaccinated against COVID-19, and officials say they are considering formally requesting other countries to admit Romanian patients with coronavirus.
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