Romanian Prime Minister Ludovic Orban's center-right minority government has been dismissed after losing a no-confidence vote brought by the leftist opposition.
The no-confidence motion was put forward on February 5 by the opposition Social Democrats (PSD), who were themselves ousted by parliament in October, and the ethnic Hungarian party UDMR.
The PSD and UDMR had criticized Orban for pushing to alter electoral laws without public debate ahead of a mayoral ballot scheduled in late spring.
Lawmakers voted 261-139 to dismiss the government, comfortably above the 233-vote threshold needed.
It was the first test of parliamentary support for Orban's minority cabinet since taking power on an anti-corruption ticket in November.
The PSD and the UDMR hold 228 seats in parliament, which indicates that a number of lawmakers from the center-right USR and center-left Pro Romania parties voted against a government that they initially supported in November.
Early elections are likely to be called by June at the latest.
If the vote had failed, Orban's cabinet would have had a green light to reintroduce electing local officials in two rounds of voting instead of the current first-past-the-post system introduced in 2012. Both PSD and the UDMR would have stood to lose a high number of local positions if local officials will again be elected in two rounds.
However, Orban's Liberals, who have upped their popularity ratings from 30 percent to some 47 percent since November, have a better chance to form a coalition government after snap polls rather than wait until regular parliamentary elections due later this year.
Orban said after the vote, "The government has fallen, but it has fallen on its feet."
PSD has seen its popularity halved over the same period of time to about 20 percent.