Third time lucky?
Romania's latest prime minister-designate has abandoned plans to try and form a new government.
Nicolae Ciucă gave up his mandate after it appeared he did not have enough support in parliament to get his proposed cabinet approved.
The former army general was nominated by Romanian President Klaus Iohannis last month to try and resolve the country's political crisis.
But Ciucă's National Liberal Party (PNL) was expected to fall short of the majority support needed after the opposition Social Democrat Party (PSD) and the junior centrist USR party said they would not back the proposal.
The caretaker defence minister said he decided to give up his mandate following discussions within his party.
"I had hoped to find a political solution (...) but the mathematical reality is the one we all know," Ciucă told reporters on Monday night after a party meeting.
Romanian MPs had already failed to support a centrist cabinet proposed by former Prime Minister-designate Dacian Cioloș.
The political crisis in Romania began in early September when former PNL Prime Minister Florin Cîțu fired his USR justice minister.
Cîțu dismissed the minister for not approving a regional infrastructure development programme, but his PNL-led government was soon ousted in a no-confidence vote.
President Iohannis is expected to convene the parties represented in parliament later on Tuesday to decide on a third prime minister-designate.
The PNL, alongside its ethnic Hungarian UDMR party allies, currently controls only 163 parliament seats, 71 seats short of a majority.
The crisis comes as Romania faces a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the daily death toll reaching a record 591 people on Tuesday.
The political crisis has also threatened Romania's economic recovery during the health crisis.
"I am convinced that all activities taking place at the party level must be based on dialogue and understanding of the situation the country is going through," Ciucă said on Monday.