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Romania's New Parliament Approves Pro-Western Government

Florin Citu (left) meets with President Klaus Iohannis on December 23.
Florin Citu (left) meets with President Klaus Iohannis on December 23.

Romanian lawmakers have approved a new center-right pro-Western coalition government headed by U.S.-educated banker Florin Citu, a former finance minister who has pledged to overcome the coronavirus crisis and the economic woes it has caused.

Some 260 lawmakers in the freshly elected parliament voted in favor of approving Citu's cabinet, with 186 against.

"My government will have two major objectives: getting over the health crisis and getting the economy back on track," Citu, 48, said in a speech to both houses of parliament.

Citu, who served as finance minister in the outgoing minority government of the National Liberal Party (PNL), has a degree in economics from the University of Iowa.

Shortly after the vote, the new cabinet was sworn in by President Klaus Iohannis.

Following the December 6 election, PNL formed a center-right alliance with the newly formed USR-PLUS alliance and the UDMR ethnic Hungarian party.

The leftist PSD, the heir to the Communist Party, won the most votes in the election -- some 30 percent -- but failed to find partners to form a government.

The 20 ministries have been divided up according to electoral strength between the three members of the alliance.

The new government presented an ambitious reform program to speed up construction of desperately needed transport infrastructure, reform an antiquated and corruption-ridden health-care network, and strengthen a judiciary system that was the target of years of political pressure from PSD.

Citu's government must also revive Romania's economy following the impact of the coronavirus, which has infected 604,251 people in the country and killed 14,766.

The country launches its vaccination program on December 27.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP
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