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Romanian government looks unlikely to survive confidence vote after it loses ally

Romanian government looks unlikely to survive confidence vote after it loses ally
FILE PHOTO: Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila casts her vote during the European Parliament Elections in Bucharest, Romania, May 26, 2019. Inquam Photos/Octav Ganea via REUTERS -
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By Radu-Sorin Marinas

BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Romania’s Social Democrat (PSD) minority government may not survive an expected no-confidence vote next month after its sole potential partner said on Tuesday it would not lend support.

Prime Minister Viorica Dancila’s government lost its majority on Monday after a junior ally, Liberal party ALDE, quit over policy, leaving the PSD vulnerable as the main opposition party said it planned to launch a no-confidence vote against the government after the summer recess.

PSD officials said on Monday they would try to secure the backing of the ethnic Hungarian UDMR party, but the party ruled that out on Tuesday.

“Our position is clear, we won’t back this PSD minority government. We don’t have and won’t have any deal with PSD to help them stay afloat… There’s no logical reason to do that,” ethnic Hungarian UDMR party deputy Attila Korodi told Reuters.

EU and U.S. authorities have strongly criticised the governing alliance for an overhaul of Romania’s judiciary that they say threatens the rule of law, and for watering down anti-graft legislation.

Voters turned on the government in European parliament elections in May, with the PSD’s support almost halving while ALDE was unable to reach the threshold to enter the assembly.

Korodi said the UDMR would back a government made up of opposition parties until the next general election in 2020.

With 31 parliamentary seats, the UDMR could have ensured the PSD has a slim but functioning majority. The PSD is now 25 seats short of a majority.

Other smaller opposition parties have said they want to bring the government down and the biggest opposition party, the centrist National Liberal Party (PNL) said it was preparing to draft a no-confidence vote to try to topple the government.

“We will be gathering signatures to back a censure motion as of next week,” said PNL president Ludovic Orban. “We will file it once we garner 233 signatures, to be sure there’s a clear majority able to bring Dancila’s government down.”

A government can be toppled if a majority of Romania’s 233 members of parliament vote to back the no-confidence motion.

ALDE withdrew from the alliance two days after leader Calin Popescu Tariceanu lost a bid to become the sole pro-government candidate in a presidential election scheduled for November.

The PSD instead picked its leader, Dancila, to challenge incumbent Klaus Iohannis.

The Romanian leu was 0.2% down on the day, trading at 4.7325 against the euro.

(Editing by Susan Fenton)

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