Romania’s Prime Minister Ludovic Orban resigned on Monday after his Liberal Party unexpectedly lost parliamentary elections.
„We need a responsible government,” Mr. Orban said. „I don’t want to cling to the post of prime minister,” he said a day after his center-right Liberals came second in the ballot with about 25.5% of the vote, a disappointing result.
Mr. Orban, 57, who has been premier of a minority government for a year will remain the chairman of the Liberal Party, which will likely be the main party in a governing coalition.
President Klaus Iohannis accepted his resignation and appointed Defense Minister Nicolae Ciuca, who previously served as Romania Army Chief of Staff as interim premier.
Mr. Orban was named prime minister in Nov. 2019 following the collapse of the Social Democrat government, which had been heavily criticized by the EU for its interference in the judiciary and corruption scandals.
He is the fifth prime minister in as many years in Romania.
The Social Democrats came first in Sunday elections with about 30%, but are struggling to find coalition partners.
Offering his resignation on Monday evening, the prime minister said the goal was to ” to create a parliamentary majority without the Social Democrats… and to form a government which can guarantee to use all the resources and opportunities that Romania has available in the next four years.”
Voter turnout was historically low in the Sunday ballot_ about 33% of potential Romanian voters compared with nearly 39.5% in 2016_ with the coronavirus pandemic as well as dissatisfaction with political parties keeping people away from the polls.
President Iohnanis said earlier the most likely scenario was a center-right coalition in an election that saw few winners.
The Liberals’ junior partner will likely be progressive USR-Plus alliance, which came third with about 15.5%.
The president will hold talks with the parties that got more than 5% of the vote to win a place in the Parliament and propose a government that is able to get a majority.
An ultra-conservative party was the biggest surprise of parliamentary elections when it came out of nowhere to become the fourth-largest party in the Romanian Parliament, winning 9% of the vote. It says it won’t go into any coalition.
Liberal Party leaders and ministers will meet the president on Tuesday.