Wed, 01 Apr 2020

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis has nominated outgoing Finance Minister Florin Citu from the National Liberal Party (PNL) as the country's premier amid a prolonged political crisis.

'I decided to make a nomination in order to move things ahead and to avoid a political blockage,' Iohannis said in a statement, after holding consultations with political parties.

Florin Citu, 47, was finance minister in the short-lived government of Ludovic Orban, the leader of the center-right PNL.

The leftist Social Democratic Party (PSD) won the 2016 general election but its government, led by Viorica Dancila, was pushed out in October in a no-confidence vote after losing support following mass protests over corruption and the imprisonment of its leader, Liviu Dragnea, on abuse of office charges.

However, the PSD has retained the largest number of seats in parliament, 202 from a total of 465, as opposed to the PNL's 109, and Orban's minority government was itself ousted in a no-confidence vote on February 5 after just three months in office.

Iohannis re-appointed Orban as prime minister, but a PSD-led alliance including other leftist groupings and the ethnic Hungarian UDMR party voted against him, thus threatening to extend a political crisis that has pushed the national currency to record lows against the euro and the dollar.

Iohannis, who was reelected in a landslide victory against Dancila, and his PNL allies, who are riding high in the polls, plan to force snap elections together with mayoral polls in early summer.

Under the constitution, the president can only dissolve parliament and call early elections after lawmakers reject a new government twice within 60 days.

The Social Democrats, many of whom risk losing their seats according to opinion polls, are pushing for general elections to be held on schedule in late fall or winter, thus allowing first-term lawmakers to qualify for lifelong plum benefits guaranteed for those who complete at least one full term.

Citu will now have to gain the backing of a majority in parliament to take office, meaning at least 233 lawmakers from a total of 465.

He then has 10 days to form a cabinet and then seek confirmation in parliament.

PSD chief Marcel Ciolacu rejected Citu's nomination, announcing that his party won't vote for the new government.

'Nothing recommends him for this job,' Ciolacu told the media.

Romania, a NATO and European Union member, has not held a snap general election since the fall of communism 30 years ago, as the process is complicated and a consensus is hard to achieve.

With reporting by g4media.ro, digi24.ro, RFE/RL's Romanian Desk, AFP, Reuters, and AP

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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