Romania government faces collapse in no-confidence vote

BUCHAREST (AFP) – Romania’s beleaguered left-wing government risked collapse in a no-confidence vote yesterday, just weeks before a presidential election and amid controversy over the country’s nominee for European Union (EU) commissioner.

Prime Minister Viorica Dancila lost her Parliamentary majority in August when the junior coalition partner of her Social Democrats (PSD), withdrew support, citing major disagreements.

That followed hard on the heels of shock losses for the PSD – Romania’s biggest party – in May’s European Parliament elections and the jailing of its once all-powerful leader, Liviu Dragnea, on corruption charges.

The opposition said the no-confidence motion has the support of at least 233 MPs in the 465-seat parliament, just enough to pass it, though some might yet side with the PSD, leaving the outcome in the balance.

“This motion won’t pass. The opposition hasn’t understood that it needs a team and a programme” to govern, Dancila told parliament at the start of the motion’s debate.

“Our government hasn’t been perfect, no doubt, but it has certainly worked for the benefits of Romanians.”

Opposition lawmaker Raluca Turcan denounced Dancila’s “political patronage” and “lies” to ensure her government’s survival.

“This is the last day where we are addressing an illegitimate prime minister who has trampled on Romanians’ expectations to move faster toward Europe,” Turcan said.

Dancila has instructed her own party lawmakers to abstain from voting to prevent possible “betrayals” and has tried to woo support, promising to pay local communities EUR300 million this Friday to make sure their MPs back her.

Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila attends a Parliament session called to debate and vote a non-confidence motion on the Romanian government at the Parliament Palace. PHOTO: AFP