Romanian MPs have failed to support a minority government led by Prime Minister-designate Dacian Cioloș.
Cioloș’ proposal fell well short of the 234 votes it needed to pass, with most lawmakers abstaining from voting or voting against it. Unsurprisingly, just 88 lawmakers supported the proposed cabinet.
The centrist USR party leader was tasked with presenting a new government to resolve Romania's political crisis.
"Regardless of the result of the vote, regardless of the political struggle, we share the good or bad results with the citizens," the former prime minister said on Wednesday.
"We are in a time of deep crisis,” Cioloș added, as the country also faces a surge in COVID-19 cases.
If two designated prime ministers fail to form a government within sixty days, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis can dissolve parliament, which could pave the way for early elections.
The political crisis began in early September when former liberal PM Florin Cîțu fired a USR justice minister for not signing off on a €10 billion infrastructure development programme.
USR, which had expressed concerns over the transparency of the funds, reacted by quitting the three-party coalition and withdrawing its support for Cîțu.
A censure motion against the government was filed last month by the opposition Social Democrat Party (PSD) and supported by USR and the far-right AUR party.
After the National Liberal Party (PNL) was ousted, Cioloș -- a former European Commissioner for Agriculture -- was surprisingly chosen to try and lead a new cabinet of USR ministers.
But his proposal failed to win parliamentary support on Wednesday, as expected.
PSD party leader Marcel Ciolacu acknowledged Romania’s bleak pandemic indicators and said that the ongoing political struggle is "hurting everyone".
"Selfishness, arrogance, and lack of commitment have brought us into this dramatic situation," Ciolacu said.
President Iohannis has also summoned government officials to a meeting Wednesday to discuss solutions to the virus crisis.
On Tuesday, Romania reported a record of nearly 19,000 new cases and 561 deaths related to COVID-19. Less than a third of Romanians are fully vaccinated, the lowest rate in the EU after Bulgaria.