UPDATE. Romanian government faces no-confidence vote. President calls vote ‘toxic,’ urges lawmakers not to pass it

Inquam Photos/ George Călin

Romanian lawmakers will vote Monday on whether to back Prime Minister Ludovic Orban’s centrist government, after the main opposition Social Democratic Party filed a no-confidence motion during the summer break.

“The Orban government must leave,” Social Democrat chairman Marcel Ciolacu wrote on Facebook. The vote failed as too few lawmakers turned up, and the Social Democrats were unable to muster a quorum.

The Social Democrats want to oust the government over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the downturn of the economy. Critics say they want to take charge before local and parliamentary elections to boost their chances in the ballots.

Ciolacu, who was elected chairman last week, says the party has the 233 votes needed to oust the government with the support of other parties. Intially, the party was expected to file another motion next month if Monday’s vote failed, but that looked increasingly unlikely after Monday’s fail. One party leader said it was „inopportune” to submit another vote of no-confidence.

The expected vote was held on the last day of an extraordinary session of Parliament that was convened due to the no-confidence motion. The Liberals have challenged the motion at the Constitutional Court saying a vote of no confidence can’t be submitted during a recess.

Orban, 57, on Thursday described the no-confidence motion as a “cyanide potion with which the PSD wants to poison Romania again”.

Dan Barna, who heads the Save Romania Union, called the motion “an exercise of stupefying irresponsibility.”

“We have a health crisis, we have an economic crisis and Mr. Ciolacu is insisting we have a political crisis?” he wrote on Facebook. “How does bringing the government down fix the problem of beds in intensive care units?” Barna wrote.

President Klaus Iohannis added his voice to the dispute calling it „another toxic step, which risks jeopardizing the efficient fight against Covid-19.”

“In the most difficult period for Romania of the last 30 years, PSD isn’t fighting for the health and well-being of ordinary people, but to grab power at any price.”

„Its sole aim is to access public funds and it clearly shows it is fundamentally corrupt and power-hungry and can’t reform, regardless of who runs it.”

Leader of the Union of Democratic Hungarians in Romania, a traditional ally of the Social Democrats, said the party had “a 1,000 reasons” to get rid of the government, but hadn’t decided which way to vote.

The Liberals have been negotiating with individual lawmakers not to support the motion, angering the Social Democrats.

Ciolacu said Orban “will not be able to steal the Social Democratic lawmakers in the last 100 metres.”

Orban replaced the former Social Democrat Prime Minister Viorica Dancila in October 2019 in another no-confidence vote.

The Social Democrats suffered major losses in May 2019 European Parliamentary elections. Former leader Liviu Dragnea was sentenced to 3 ½ years jail for a fake jobs case. The Social Democrats also faced ongoing mass protests in response to controversial attempts at judicial reform.


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