Romania’s President Asks Outgoing Prime Minister to Form New Government

February 7, 2020 Updated: February 8, 2020
FONT BFONT SText size

Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis appointed outgoing Prime Minister Ludovic Orban on Thursday to form a new government for the second time after his center-right minority government lost a no-confidence vote in Parliament the day before.

Orban, leader of the National Liberal Party (PNL), was first asked by Iohannis to form a government three months ago after the Social Democratic (PSD) government led by Prime Minister Viorica Dancila lost a no-confidence vote amidst corruption scandals.

The no-confidence motion was initiated by the center-left PSD and official data showed that 261 lawmakers voted to oust Orban. In contrast, 233 votes were needed to pass the motion.

PSD requested the no-confidence motion “after the government took responsibility in Parliament for a bill that changes the electoral law so that mayors get elected after two rounds of voting instead of one,” according to Romania Insider. The PSD and Hungarian minority party UDMR claimed that it would reduce the number of mayoral candidates in the elections to be held in June 2020.

Liberal party President Ludovic Orban (L) and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis wave on stage during an European Parliament electoral rally in Bucharest, Romania on May 18, 2019. (Vadim Ghirda/AP Photo, File photo)
Liberal Party President Ludovic Orban (L) and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis wave on stage during a European Parliament electoral rally in Bucharest, Romania, on May 18, 2019. (Vadim Ghirda/AP Photo, File photo)

Ousting the government can, however, bring an early parliamentary election a step closer. If lawmakers reject two successive prime minister proposals within 60 days, Parliament is considered dissolved, and a snap election should be held.

Romania, a European Union member, is due to hold local elections in June and general elections in December. If the early election is forced, it will be held six months earlier.

A confidence vote on the interim government formed by Orban could take place as early as next week.

An early election could be beneficial for Orban’s party PNL because it has doubled its popularity ratings to about 47 percent since a 2016 parliamentary election, while the opposition PSD lost half of its popularity to about 20 percent over the same period.

Since the 2016 elections, the PNL party has held 78 seats while the PSD party has held 133 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower chamber of the Romanian Parliament. In the Romanian Senate, the PNL holds 28 seats while the PSD holds 69 seats.

“A first step toward a snap election has already been made today,” Iohannis said.

“I see an enthusiastic, pro-reform cabinet that wanted to repair what the PSD has damaged over the past years,” he added. “On the other hand, I see a PSD that is anti-reforms … so I wish myself to adopt a stance that leads to early elections.”

Iohannis used to be a PNL member but suspended his party membership in 2014 when he took the office of the president. The Romanian president cannot be a member of any political party.

“Some 47.4 percent of Romanians would vote for PNL if parliamentary elections were held now, according to the results of a poll conducted by the Romanian Institute of Marketing, Analysis, and Polling,” and released on Monday, reported See News.

Gina Sturdza and Reuters contributed to this report.