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Romania gov’t survives censure vote over judicial overhaul

Opposition members of parliament hold banners against the government of Romanian Premier Viorica Dancila during a parliament session debating a no-confidence vote initiated by opposition parties in Bucharest, Romania, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018, with banners reading "No emergency decrees" and "Resignation". The Social Democrat government is facing a no-confidence vote over a contentious judicial overhaul that opposition politicians say has harmed the rule of law and democracy in the European Union country. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania’s Social Democrat government on Thursday easily survived a no-confidence vote over a contentious judicial overhaul that opposition politicians say has harmed the rule of law and democracy in this European Union member nation.

Lawmakers voted 161-3 to dismiss the left-wing government, far less than the 233 needed. Before the vote, Premier Viorica Dancila told lawmakers she wouldn’t comment on the overhaul as the laws were “adopted by Parliament.” She rebuked the EU for criticizing it.

“I will never be accountable abroad for things which belong to the country’s sovereignty and dignity,” she said.

But Dan Barna, who leads the opposition Save Romania Union, said the government’s top priority was to “get the criminals out of prison.”

Social Democrat leader Liviu Dragnea is pressing the government to give amnesty to “thousands of people” he claims were wrongly imprisoned by anti-corruption prosecutors.

During the parliamentary session, opposition lawmakers displayed banners saying “Resign!” and “Don’t pass an emergency decree,” referring to reports that the government was planning to quickly approve an amnesty.

Dragnea, who can’t be prime minister because of a conviction for vote-rigging, effectively runs the government. Dancila, an ally, was virtually unknown before she became premier in January.

Romania assumes the EU’s rotating presidency on Jan. 1.

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