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Romanian President Swears In New Government, Declares 'Political Crisis Over'

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Romanian President Klaus Iohannis (right) receives the signed oath from Prime Minister-designate Nicolae Ciuca during a swearing-in ceremony in Bucharest on November 25.

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis has sworn in Nicolae Ciuca as prime minister, hours after lawmakers overwhelmingly endorsed Ciuca's three-party coalition to end a two-month political stalemate.

The new coalition's center-right National Liberal Party (PNL), the leftist Social Democratic Party (PSD), and ethnic Hungarian UDMR control around two-thirds of the seats in the 466-seat legislature. The Ciuca-led cabinet was endorsed by a 318-to-126 vote.

Iohannis nominated Ciuca, the caretaker defense minister and retired army general, three days ago in the latest push to break through the political impasse.

At the swearing-in ceremony, Iohannis said the "political crisis is over" but added that the country of around 19 million people still faced many challenges.

"The pandemic is not over. The energy crisis is not over, it is only taking on new forms," Iohannis said. "All this requires a solid government, with a consistent majority in parliament, and now there is this government."

Ciuca vowed to put aside differences to rule in "the interest of Romanians."

"We who are in front of you today have gone through things that separate us and we have found things that unite us," Ciuca, a military veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq, said. "We are determined to put an end to the tense situation we are going through."

The PNL pledged last week to install a cabinet by November 25.

Romania, one of the European Union's poorest members, has been in political paralysis since a PNL-led centrist coalition government fell apart in September, threatening an economic recovery and the fight against the deadliest surge in COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic.

Critics say that although nominally led by the Liberals, the leftist PSD, which is the single-largest party in parliament following general elections in December, will hold sway over the new government.

Ciuca, 54, was first nominated by Iohannis to form a minority Liberal government in October, but he gave up when it became clear that PNL would not be able to garner sufficient support in parliament.

Romania, which has the second-lowest vaccination rate in the 27-member EU, has been battling a rampant fourth wave of COVID-19 infections that saw at its peak last month with some 500 deaths per day in the country of 19 million.

Almost 1.8 million infections have been registered since the start of the pandemic and more than 55,000 people have died of the coronavirus in Romania.

With reporting by Reuters, G4media.ro, and Hotnews.ro
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