New Romanian Government wins confidence vote after a day of political intrigue

Newsroom 04/03/2014 | 23:38

Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta won a confidence vote in Parliament on Tuesday, as expected, securing a new mandate to push through a series of IMF-backed reforms aimed at speeding up growth in the European Union’s second-poorest country.

Ponta’s Social Democrat-led (PSD) government won a vote in both houses by a combined 346 votes to 192, having partly restored its majority with new allies from other smaller parties (UDMR, UNPR, PP-DD) following the departure of PNL.

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Previously, President Traian Basescu had questioned Ponta’s constitutional right to form a new administration and threatened to mount a challenge in court. Prime-minister Victor Ponta claimed on Tuesday that he met and discussed the matter with Basescu but they didn’t agree on a solution.

“I met with the president but we couldn’t reach any conclusions regarding the following procedures. We will discuss it again tomorow”, the PM said.

On the same evening, Traian Basescu held a special press conference at Cotroceni where he stated that the quickest fix, which he suggested to victor Ponta, is to adopt a new governing program on Wednesday that the Government would then assume responsibility for in the Parliament. Basescu claims this is one of the conditions he set for signing the decrees that oficialise the new appointments in the Government: “there should be a new governing program that reflects the new political reality as well as the protocols established between the new coalition partners”.

Crin Antonescu quits

The head of the Romanian Senate Crin Antonescu, former political ally of the country’s Prime Minister Victor Ponta,  resigned from the helm of the Senate on Wednesday, just before the vote to green light the new Government.

Initially, his statement was more of a dare for PM Ponta, who previously said Antonescu at the helm of the Senate means the Social Liberal Union, the alliance which got both of them in their current seats, still exists.

Antonescu thus dared Ponta, asking him to resign together from their positions. „Mr. Prime Minister Ponta, you see my presence at the helm of the Senate as a sign USL still goes on. Let me assure you, USL no longer exists. Are you brave enough, so that we’re both convinced, to resign from the positions we obtained through USL? We are here, in the Parliament, everybody is here, you have the counselors, the press. I quit from this position of president of the Senate, a job given to me by USL. You resign from the position of prime-minister, a job given to you by USL”, Antonescu announced.

The liberal leader publicly renounced his function and afterwards taunted Ponta saying: “I’m not the president of the Senate and I am the same, but my hands are free. You, if you aren’t prime-minister you are nothing”. Afterwards, the hall erupted in liberals shouting for Ponta to resign.

„Everyone should stay calm, I am not quitting today,” the PM said.

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