No confidence vote topples Romanian administration


ROMANIA’S MINORITY government lost a vote of no confidence yesterday, stoking political rivalries ahead of next month’s presidential election and potentially endangering vital reforms demanded by international lenders.

It is now up to President Traian Basescu to nominate a successor to outgoing prime minister Emil Boc. But the next government is likely to serve only as a caretaker until after the November 22nd presidential election which could radically alter the balance of power in Romania.

Mr Boc’s government and his Liberal Democrats lost the confidence ballot by 254 votes to 176, a fortnight after the prime minister sacked a minister belonging to his erstwhile Social Democrat (PSD) coalition partners. The dismissal caused the PSD to abandon the alliance and go into opposition.

The opposition, led by the PSD and National Liberals, accused the government of mishandling the economic crisis and failing to remedy falling wages and rising unemployment. But Mr Boc and his allies charged the opposition with cynical politicking ahead of the presidential poll, in which the leaders of both parties are expected to challenge Mr Basescu.

“I believe political parties have made a grave mistake by engaging in this severe fight, which does not take into consideration the country’s interest,” Mr Basescu said yesterday.

“I will start consultations with the parties this evening as, according to the constitution, the president must name a prime minister who then has 10 days to form a government and seek a confidence vote. My goal is to shorten this crisis as much as possible.”

The four parties who won seats in last year’s election will meet Mr Basescu for discussions aimed at forming a new government.

“The most important thing right now is to hold talks with the parties that voted for the motion to get a common point of view on a new government,” said PSD leader Mircea Geoana. “We want to nominate an independent, efficient government to rule the country for the next two months.”

Analysts fear the upheaval and campaigning for the presidential election could jeopardise unpopular cost-cutting measures stipulated by the International Monetary Fund in return for a €20 billion loan to help mitigate the effects of the economic crisis.

The deteriorating economic situation has plunged formerly booming Romania into deep recession. The next tranche of the loan is due to be paid in December.