Romania’s Social Democrat govt loses no-confidence vote

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Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, right, watches as an opposition lawmaker flashes victory signs after casting his vote during a no confidence vote in Bucharest, Romania, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. Romania’s Social Democrat government has lost a vote of no-confidence in Parliament. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

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BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania’s Social Democratic government lost a no-confidence vote in Parliament on Thursday and the president is expected to give opposition parties a chance to form the next government.

Lawmakers voted 238-4 against Prime Minister Viorica Dancila’s minority government. The no-confidence motion needed 233 votes to be approved.

Most Social Democratic Party lawmakers abstained and three votes were annulled.

Opposition lawmakers accused Dancila and her ministers of mismanaging Romania’s economy, letting public safety deteriorate and trying to politicize the country’s judicial system.

President Klaus Iohannis described the Social Democratic government in a statement as “incompetent” and called its ouster a win for Romania. Iohannis, who is seeking re-election next month, also said he would begin consultations with opposition parties on Friday about forming a new government.

Before the vote, Dancila, who became Romania’s prime minister in 2018, argued that the motion would destabilize the country and claimed opposition parties had no viable alternatives to her government’s policies.

“How can you assume the reconstruction of Romania when you don’t know what to offer to Romanians for tomorrow or after a week?” Dancila said.

An early parliamentary election is unlikely any time soon since Romania’s presidential election is scheduled for next month.

Dancila said she intends to continue as the Social Democrats’ candidate for president.

While Iohannis favors calling an early parliamentary election — now they are scheduled to be held in late 2020 — and some opposition parties reportedly agree with him, it was unclear whether the necessary wider consensus was there for an early vote.

For now, Dancila’s Cabinet will continue governing but with limited powers.

Opposition lawmakers said they were convinced a new government would succeed.

Cristian Seidler, from the Save Romania Union, predicted ministers in the next Cabinet would be “competent people that showed professionalism and integrity and responsibility in their careers.”

Ilie Viorica, a retiree who was protesting the government outside Parliament on Thursday, echoed many voters’ frustrations over Romania’s rampant corruption, which has inspired massive anti-government protests over the past few months.

“We are tired of this government of incompetents. We are tired of thieves,” Viorica said. “Look at Romania! They destroyed so many things.”

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