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Romania's centrists want to topple government in no-confidence vote

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BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Romania’s centrist opposition is seeking to topple the government in a parliamentary no-confidence vote next week, one year ahead of a general election, the National Liberal Party (PNL) said on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Viorica Dancila’s cabinet lost its majority in August after a coalition junior ally ALDE quit over policy disagreements, leaving her vulnerable to a censure motion.

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

“We’re filing the censure motion later today,” said PNL president Ludovic Orban, saying the largest opposition grouping had gathered 237 signatures from lawmakers to back its bid.

A government can be toppled if a majority of Romania’s members of parliament, or 233 MPs, vote to back the no-confidence motion. Political commentators, however, said a slim four-seat margin gives the government high chances of survival.

The vote could take place as early as Friday.

EU and U.S. authorities have strongly criticised the governing alliance for an overhaul of Romania’s judiciary which 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 support for the ruling Social Democrats almost halving compared to levels at the 2016 general election.

(Reporting by Radu Marinas, editing by Ed Osmond)

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