Romania Parliament approves centrist gov’t of Ludovic Orban, in key vote for European Union policymaking

Foto: Inquam Photos/ Octav Ganea

Parliament has approved the centrist government of Prime Minister Ludovic Orban amid high tensions,  in a result that was closely watched in Romania and Brussels.

The outcome eases political uncertainty in the East European nation and boosts the chances of President Klaus Iohannis who is running for re-election this weekend.  

A total of 240 lawmakers_ everyone present_ voted for the government on Monday, seven more votes than was needed.

“Thank you,” said Orban after the result. “Have confidence in us.”

„Romania has a legitimate government, despite an embarrassing and disgraceful boycott,” he said later. Iohannis signed a decree enabling the government to take office ahead of a ceremony to swear in the Cabinet at the Cotroceni presidential palace.

In a sign of the tensions, there were cheers every time a lawmaker put a small white ball into the urn.

Ahead of the vote, two parties including the Social Democrats, the largest group in the legislature, boycotted the session. However, more than 233 lawmakers needed attended the session, ensuring a quorum.

The vote was being watched in Brussels where the outcome could have extended a policymaking vacuum in the European Union.

Having won parliamentary approval, the Liberals are expected to quickly name a European commissioner.

The outcome is a blow to outgoing Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, who was counting on blocking Orban to increase her chances of getting into the runoff on Nov. 24.

She called the result „a black day for democracy, a day when Iohannis pushed his lieutenants” into the government. „We have a dictatorial and abusive president.”

She accused Iohannis of being „anti-democratic, anti-constitutional, a president who works against Romanians.” She defended her government’s record, saying it had invested in hospitals and raised salaries and pensions.

Viorica Dancila, candidatul PSD la alegerile prezidentiale, participa la un eveniment electoral unde sunt prezenti membrii ai conducerii centrale a PSD, alaturi de mii de simpatizanti, organizat la compexul Senator din Timisoara, Timis, Vineri 1 Noiembrie 2019, Cornel Putan

Orban, 56, says the objectives of his centrist government include streamlining government ministries, investment in infrastructure and ensuring an independent justice system. Even if he takes office, he faces an uphill battle getting support for legislation.

A contentious judicial overhaul that sparked widespread protests and criticism from the European Union and U.S. contributed to the collapse of the Social Democrat government in an Oct. 10 vote.

The former Social Democrat chairman Liviu Dragnea is currently serving a 3 ½ year sentence for abuse of office.

After Dancila’s government was toppled, Iohannis nominated  Orban of the opposition Liberal Party to form a government.

The Social Democrats and Pro-Romania, a party led by former Prime Minister Victor Ponta said they would boycott the vote which would lead to more political uncertainty and delay the formation of a new government.

Orban called the boycott “embarrassing and disgraceful… ..which shows a disregard for the state’s institutions.” He said he was counting on 237 to 243 lawmakers to attend the session.


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