Romanian Ex-Premier Ciolos Gets Surprise Tap to Form Cabinet

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Bloomberg News

Bloomberg News

Andra Timu and Irina Vilcu

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(Bloomberg) — Romanian President Klaus Iohannis unexpectedly gave former Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos a mandate to form a new government in a move than may help unlock a month-long political crisis. 

Ciolos, 52, the newly-elected leader of the Save Romania Union party, known as USR, will have 10 days to come up with a governing program, a cabinet and seek a vote of confidence in a parliament. If successful, it would be the European Union member’s 10th new government in as many years.

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But USR will face an uphill battle to find enough support in the highly divided legislature after the former ruling partner of Premier Florin Citu toppled his government in a no-confidence motion last week after they fell out over a budget spending program. 

“We stand ready to take on the responsibility to govern and start negotiations immediately with the other parties to solve the political crisis,” Ciolos said in a statement. His party reiterated that the previous three-party ruling alliance is still the best option for a new administration.

Convincing their former — and larger — ruling partner, Citu’s Liberals, to restore the alliance may be a hard job. It will require overcoming differences with Citu, who reiterated he’s against reviving a ruling alliance with a partner that betrayed his cabinet.

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Earlier on Monday, the Liberal Party refrained from making a nomination for a new prime minister. They said they don’t have majority support, leading to Iohannis’s unexpected endorsement of Ciolos, who served as prime minister from 2015 to 2017.

The search for a new government couldn’t come at a more difficult time for Romania. While voters are used to seeing prime ministers come and go with rapid regularity, the country is now facing a record number of deaths and hospitalizations from the Covid pandemic, partially due to a stumbling vaccination campaign.

Another issue is spiking energy prices just before the onset of winter, which is threatening to spur public anger in one of Europe’s poorest countries and may pressure lawmakers into approving a cabinet sooner. If Ciolos fails to win the confidence vote, Iohannis must designate another candidate.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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