Romania’s centrist government faces no-confidence vote, close result expected

Inquam Photos / George Călin

Romania’s Prime Minister Ludovic Orban is facing a vote of no-confidence on Wednesday that he may lose.

Even if his three-month Liberal minority government falls, though, it will take the Liberals one step closer to their goal of snap elections and building a solid majority in Parliament based on recent opinion polls.

But the vote threatens to bring more 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 who submitted the motion claim to have 237 votes, four more than needed to topple the minority Liberal government, but the result is expected to be tight.

The Pro-Romania party led by ex-Prime Minister Victor Ponta, promised to support the motion, though it’s not clear if all lawmakers will follow his lead.

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.

If the government falls, it will stay in office as a caretaker government,  until President Klaus 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.

Orban said this week that the government was “prepared for any outcome.”

“Regardless of the result, we’ll continue our activity. We’re heading to the objective of winning the next elections so we can assure stable and solid governance with wide parliamentary support.”

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.

If Orban’s government falls, it will bring more instability just four months after Parliament ousted the Social Democrats Romania’s budget deficit has exceeded the 3% recommended by the European Union and economic growth has slowed.

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