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Romania's Ludovic Orban avoids censure motion over COVID-19 response

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 In this May 14, 2020 file photo Romanian Prime Minister Ludovic Orban handles his face mask before attending a meeting ahead of the loosening of measures taken by the state.
In this May 14, 2020 file photo Romanian Prime Minister Ludovic Orban handles his face mask before attending a meeting ahead of the loosening of measures taken by the state.   -   Copyright  Andreea Alexandru/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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Romania's parliament has postponed a motion that would have seen embattled leader Ludovic Orban censured for his government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The voting could not be held as planned on Monday because only 226 MPs turned up to the sitting to cast their vote, this was seven short of the 233 required to have a quorum in the chamber.

The Socialist Democratic Party (PSD), which successfully brought a no-confidence vote in Orban's government in February, had accused the prime minister and his cabinet of bungling the country's handling of the pandemic, which has killed 3,459 Romanians and infected 83,150.

Orban’s party only came to power in November on a platform to fight corruption – replacing the Social Democrats under former Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, who were ousted by parliament the previous month.

Romania will hold local elections on 27 September and parliamentary elections in December with Orban's National Liberal Party (PNL) likely to triumph despite the recent moves by the opposition.

Radu Magdin, a political analyst, told Euronews that the postponement of the vote could even help Orban's party's chances in the coming poll.

"Today's episode could boost PNL’s electoral capital in local elections - scheduled September 27- determining some local candidates, from PSD primarily, to join the Liberals to benefit from the government’s policies," he said.

"Finally expect the PSD leadership to face some internal backlash and be forced to make stronger and clearer opposition to the government, like Ponta's Pro Romania, is doing."

Meanwhile, Germany added Bucharest and several regions of Romania to its list of areas considered to be at high risk of contamination by COVID-19 on Wednesday, forcing its Minister of Labor to cancel a visit to the Romanian capital.

In its latest travel advisory, the Foreign Ministry warned against travel to Bucharest and ten other areas of Romania, including Brasov, Gorj, Prahova, and Vrancean, after adding seven countries to its list last week.