Romania: PM-designate gives up mandate to form government

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania’s prime minister-designate relinquished his mandate to try to form a new government after it appeared he did not have enough support in parliament to get his proposed Cabinet approved.

Former army general Nicolae Ciuca of the National Liberal Party was set to put forward a new government on Wednesday. It was expected to fall short of the majority support needed after the opposition Social Democrat Party and the junior Save Romania Union (USR) party said they would not back Ciuca.

Ciuca, who currently serves as caretaker defense minister, said he decided to give up his mandate following discussions within his party.

“I am convinced that all activities that take place at party level must be based on dialogue and understanding of the situation the country is going through,” Ciuca said Monday night after a party meeting.

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis nominated Ciuca on Oct. 21 to try to form a government after lawmakers failed to support a Cabinet proposed by former Prime Minister-designate Dacian Ciolos of the USR.

Ciuca’s withdrawal prolongs Romania’s months-long political crisis as the European Union country of around 19 million people battles a surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths that has overwhelmed its ailing health care system. On Tuesday, Romania reported a record daily COVID-19 death toll of 591.

The political crisis in Romania began in early September when former Liberal Prime Minister Florin Citu fired a USR justice minister for not signing off on a regional infrastructure development program. Citu’s government was then ousted Oct. 5 in a no-confidence vote launched by the Social Democrat Party and supported by USR.

President Iohannis is expected to convene the parties represented in parliament later Tuesday to decide on a new prime minister-designate.

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