10th Dec 2023

Romanian government out after no-confidence vote

  • Romania once again in chaos after prime minister Florin Cîţu lost no-confidence vote (Photo: andreistroe)
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Romania's liberal government was ousted on 5 October (Tuesday) following a no-confidence vote overwhelmingly endorsed by parliament.

The no-confidence motion, tabled last week by the opposition Social Democrat Party, needed 234 votes to pass, but got 281 - the largest number of votes ever recorded in Romania for such a motion.

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The cabinet, led by Florin Cîţu, faced the largest coalition ever created against an incumbent government.

It was not only the Social Democrat Party and populist Alliance for the Union of Romanians opposition parties backing the vote, but also the Save Romania Union party (USR), a former governing coalition partner, vouching to oust Cîţu.

Another first for the ousted cabinet was also that two motions of no confidence were simultaneously tabled against it.

Hopes are that this week's vote will end a political crisis which began over a month ago after the reformist USR party backed down from the centre-right coalition.

USR cried foul when its justice minister, Stelian Ion, was swiftly sacked by Cîţu after refusing to endorse a €10bn regional development program.

USR called the dismissal of its justice minister "abusive and groundless" and the prime minister's investment plan was merely an attempt to buy local political support, it said.

In post-communist Romania, over 40 motions of no confidence were tabled, six were adopted, making Cîțu's cabinet the sixth dismissed following a vote of no confidence.

What's next?

According to the Romanian constitution, the president will now consult parliamentary parties on appointing a new prime minister. Meanwhile, Cîţu will remain as interim PM for the next 45 days.

The designated prime minister will request, within 10 days from the appointment, a parliamentary vote of confidence.

If he or she fails and if two consecutive prime ministerial proposals are rejected the constitution says that the president may dissolve parliament and trigger early elections.

While Cîţu's National Liberal Party hopes to get the now interim PM reappointed and back into his old job, the opposition Social Democrats want early elections.

USR, the country's third largest party, said before the vote that it wants its newly elected boss, Dacian Cioloș, as Romania's future PM.

Just five days ago Cioloș said he was not interested in the job: "I was prime minister, but now I'm not concerned about this position. I have responsibilities in the European Parliament, I have a mandate there".

Cioloș, a former PM himself, was elected over the weekend to lead the USR party. Soon after winning the internal party election, Cioloș renounced its leadership from the Renew Europe group.

Some political pundits regard Cioloș as a presidential hopeful in 2024, backed by the party he now leads.

But regardless of who the next PM will be, Romania's Covid crisis is only getting worse.

The day of the no-confidence vote was also the day Romania recorded its highest number of Covid-19 infections ever - 15,037 cases.

Author bio

Cristian Gherasim is a freelance journalist contributing to EUobserver, Euronews, EU Reporter, Katoikos, Von Mises Institute, and bne IntelliNews, with a particular focus on European and regional affairs.

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