UPDATE. Liberal PM-designate steps back minutes before Romanian Parliament vote. Says Liberal chairman Ludovic Orban is best pick for job.

Inquam Photos / Octav Ganea

Prime Minister-designate Florin Citu of the Liberal Party announced he was stepping down on Thursday minutes before he faced a confidence vote in Parliament. He said recent developments meant that Liberal chairman Ludovic Orban was the best choice for the job.

It was unclear whether the minority government led by Citu, who was finance minister before President Klaus Iohannis picked him as prime minister, would have mustered the votes it needed. Concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, however, had upped his chances in recent days.

Some opposition parties said they would give Citu’s Cabinet the green light to ensure political stability during the crisis.

Without directly referring to the COVID-19 crisis or a decision by the Constitutional Court to strike down early elections, Citu said his decision „should be interpreted in the context of what Romania is going through” at the moment.

He said that the chairman of the Liberal Party, Ludovic, had the necessary legitimacy to be prime minister.

„President Klaus Iohannis designated me… and it was an honor. But it was taken in the context of most parties agreeing to early elections, which is no longer the case.”

Social Democrat acting chairman Marcel Ciolacu welcomed the development and said the party would „press for the installment of a new government.”

The latest period of political uncertainty began in October after Parliament dismissed the Social Democrat-led government. A minority Liberal government took office in November and lost a vote of no-confidence in February.

Romania shut down all schools and suspended flights to and from Italy on Monday, seeking to limit the spread of the coronavirus, as the number of new infections rose to 48 on Thursday. At least one million Romanians live in Italy.


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