UPDATE. Romanian Parliament ousts gov’t in no-confidence vote, raising prospect of early elections

Inquam Photos / George Călin

Romania’s Parliament has ousted the government of Prime Minister Ludovic Orban in a vote of no-confidence, returning the country into a period of uncertainty and raising the prospect of early elections.

Lawmakers voted 261-139 on Wednesday to dismiss the minority Liberal government, far more than the 233 needed.

Acting chairman of the Social Democratic Party, Marcel Ciolacu said his party would look for a premier who then needs to be nominated by political rival, President Klaus Iohannis, which is unlikely.

Even though the Liberals lost the vote, the result takes them one step closer to their goal of snap elections. They say they want to build a solid majority in Parliament based on recent opinion polls.

“We were judged by a toxic Parliament,” Orban said. “We lost a battle, and we will win the battle for Romania,” hinting at early elections.

Iohannis said he continued to back the idea of snap elections, and said he would probably name a premier Thursday evening after talks with the country’s political parties.

He accused the Social Democrats of opposing reforms and said if the opposition didn’t want early elections, he would push for a reform-minded government „built by and around” the Liberals.

After the vote, Orban said. “We are proud of what we did in three months, we repaired a lot of things broken by the Social Democrats, we brought Romania back to the European fold.”

He said the Liberals re-established Romania’s credibility and renewed business confidence, and passed a series of measures to stabilize the economy.

But the vote threatens to bring a period of political instability to the country which has had four prime ministers in the last three years, denting investor confidence and economic growth.

The Social Democrats submitted the motion and were supported by the Pro-Romania party led by ex-Prime Minister Victor Ponta. The party which pushes for the rights of ethnic Hungarians also supported the motion.

The Social Democrats brought the confidence motion in a bid to regain power after being ousted in a censure motion in October.

They have criticized Orban for trying to change electoral laws without public debate ahead of a municipal elections in June.

The Liberals will stay in office as a caretaker government,  until Iohannis nominates a new prime minister after consultations with Romania’s political parties. Iohannis has said he will nominate Orban again.

If the government is toppled and two cabinets fail to win parliamentary approval within a 60-day period, the president can dissolve Parliament, triggering early elections.

An opinion poll published this week gave the Liberals more than 47%, more than double the support for the Social Democrats who got 20.6%. The poll was carried out by the Institute of Marketing, Analysis and Polling (IMAS) which was commissioned by radio station Europa FM.


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