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Romania's PM-designate seen losing confidence vote, prolonging political crisis

Romania parliament endorses PM Ciuca's grand coalition government
Romania parliament endorses PM Ciuca's grand coalition government Copyright Thomson Reuters 2021
Copyright Thomson Reuters 2021
By Reuters
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BUCHAREST - A minority government lineup put forward by Romania's centrist Prime Minister-designate Nicolae Ciuca will face a parliamentary vote of confidence next week, which he is widely expected to lose, further prolonging a month-long political stalemate.

Romania has been in political paralysis since a Liberal-led government was toppled by parliament on Oct. 5, threatening economic recovery and efforts to cut big budget and external shortfalls at a time of rising COVID-19 infections.

Parliamentary committees decided on Saturday to hold the confidence vote on Wednesday, with parliamentary hearings of cabinet ministers due the day before.

Retired army general Ciuca, 54, a Liberal serving as defence minister in the current caretaker government led by Florin Citu, has drafted a cabinet lineup made of his party and ethnic Hungarian UDMR ministers, which jointly control 163 parliament seats, 71 seats short of a majority.

Analysts expect Ciuca to face a tough task convincing the fragmented legislature to back him, with the largest opposition group, the Social Democrats, saying they would only favour a cabinet made of technocrats instead of a minority setup.

A previous Liberal-led coalition unravelled last month after the centrist USR, a relatively new grouping, withdrew its ministers in a row over a regional development fund, stripping the government of a parliamentary majority.

If Ciuca fails to win next week's confidence vote, President Klaus Iohannis can dissolve parliament and call a snap election - an unlikely scenario given current economic and health challenges.

A fresh nomination for premier from Iohannis might occur as early as next week, pundits say.

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