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Thursday, December 9, 2021

Romania votes in a new government to end the political crisis

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BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) – Romanian lawmakers voted Thursday in favor of a new coalition government headed by a former liberal army general, which could usher in a months-long political crisis in the Eastern European nation. .

The vote in parliament, which was approved by an overwhelming majority, ends a protracted political crisis that sparked an unlikely association between the center-right National Liberal Party and the left-wing Social Democratic Party, former political rivals and the two largest parties. from Romania.

Newly appointed Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca, a former Defense Minister, will head the new tripartite coalition that is made up of Liberals, Social Democrats and the small ethnic-Hungarian Romanian party, UDMR.

Ciuca, who served in both Afghanistan and Iraq, said in parliament on Thursday that coalition members would put aside pride and political differences in “the interest of Romanians.”

“Those of us who are in front of you today have gone through things that separate us and we have found things that unite us,” said Ciuca. “We are determined to put an end to the tense situation we are going through.”

The 20 ministries of the country will be shared between the parties. Together, the three parties control about two-thirds of the 466-seat legislature.

Part of the agreement between the new coalition partners, which includes increases in social spending requested by the Social Democrats, is that the role of prime minister is rotated every 18 months. Ciuca will occupy the position first and then a Social Democratic prime minister will replace him.

President Klaus Iohannis will be sworn in in the new government on Thursday afternoon.

Social Democratic Party leader Marcel Ciolacu on Thursday acknowledged rising energy prices, noting that Romania has been hit hard by the pandemic. “Romania needs a new path,” he said.

“It is time to show Romanians that they can have a government that works for them,” Ciolacu said.

Since early September, Romania, a European Union country of around 19 million people, has been mired in political turmoil after former liberal prime minister Florin Citu fired the justice minister of his junior coalition partner USR. for not signing a regional development fund.

USR, which expressed concern about transparency over funds, reacted by resigning from the tripartite coalition. Then the Citu government was overthrown in October. 5 in a motion of no confidence presented by the Social Democrats and supported by USR.

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