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Romanian President Asks Finance Minister To Form Government

Romanian Prime Minister-designate Florin Citu (left) and President Klaus Iohannis (file photo)
Romanian Prime Minister-designate Florin Citu (left) and President Klaus Iohannis (file photo)

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis has announced outgoing Finance Minister Florin Citu as prime minister-designate following a parliamentary poll earlier this month.

Citu's task will be to form a center-right coalition government able to stave off an economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic and boost investment.

The leftist Social Democrats (PSD) -- the heir to the Communist Party -- emerged as the strongest grouping in the December 6 elections, which were marred by absenteeism prompted in part by the coronavirus pandemic, but failed to secure enough votes for a majority in parliament.

Citu’s center-right National Liberal Party (PNL), who has ruled through a minority government since October last year, formed an alliance with USR-PLUS -- a relatively new center-right grouping -- and the ethnic Hungarian party UDMR.

Party leaders said the new parliament could hold a vote of confidence to endorse the new cabinet as early as December 23.

The coalition will control around 55 percent of parliamentary seats, a majority that analysts say may be relatively fragile.

"I will do everything possible to ensure a stable and long-lived government," Citu said during a joint appearance with Iohannis.

Both the Liberals and USR-Plus have pledged to reverse actions by previous PSD-led governments to undermine the independence of the judiciary that have sparked huge anti-corruption protests.

Citu, a 48-year-old, U.S.-educated former banker, has yet to unveil his cabinet line-up and governing program. Ministers must also submit to parliamentary hearings before a confidence vote.

Romania, a country of under 20 million people and one of the poorest European Union members, has reported almost 600,000 coronavirus cases and 15,000 deaths this year, and expects its economy to shrink by 4.2 percent.

With reporting by,,, Reuters, and AP
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