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Romania government falls after six months in power

  • Published at 11:37 am June 21st, 2017
Romania government falls after six months in power

Romania's left-wing government fell Wednesday after lawmakers overwhelmingly backed a no-confidence vote in Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu following power struggles within his party.

The ruling Social Democrat party (PSD) filed the motion, which passed with 241 to 10 votes, barely six months after winning a thumping election victory.

Here is the explanation of Romania's political crisis.

Who are the main players?

The PSD installed Grindeanu, 43, after its crushing election victory in December. Party leader Liviu Dragnea, 54, cannot hold office because of an electoral fraud conviction.

Once Grindeanu became premier, Dragnea continued to pull the strings behind the scenes. At first Grindeanu complied but recently began asserting his independence.

On June 14, the PSD withdrew its support for Grindeanu's government, accusing it of "delays" in implementing reforms in the European Union's second-poorest country.

What's the dispute?

Grindeanu though is refusing to go, accusing Dragnea of wanting his "execution" and of seeking to "concentrate all the power in his hands".

"Romania needs stability and responsibility," Grindeanu said on Thursday last week while continuing with official business as usual. He said he would not step down until President Klaus Iohannis has appointed a successor from the PSD.

This presents a conundrum for the centre-right Iohannis, who under constitutional rules can nominate a new candidate only once the post has been vacated.

"I had hoped that it wouldn't come to this and that Mr Grindeanu would respect democratic rules," complained Dragnea.

What happens next?

The PSD will propose a new premier to Iohannis. The president's approval is not a formality, however. In December he rejected the PSD's original choice for premier.

The new prime minister will have 10 days to secure a vote of confidence in parliament for his cabinet and policy plans.

What's at stake?

Romania's economy has been doing well, enjoying the fastest growth rate, 5.6%, in the EU in the first quarter, while efforts to tackle corruption have borne fruit.

But for further progress Romania can ill afford more instability, with the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission saying reforms are sorely needed.

In addition, the people are watching closely to see if Dragnea's real aim, as sociologist and former party member Alin Teodorescu suspects, is to ease up on graft.

In early February the biggest wave of protests since the end of communism in 1989 forced the government, led by Grindeanu, to abandon legislation seen as doing just that.

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