Romanian President Klaus Iohannis says he will likely appoint an acting prime minister by October 15 to form a transitional cabinet to replace the center-left government that lost a no-confidence vote earlier this week.
Iohannis said after consultations on October 11 with political parties that the new government will likely be led by the main opposition party, the center-right National Liberal Party (PNL).
He added that he favored early parliamentary elections, but only after a presidential poll next month, which he appears favored to win for a second five-year term.
Regular parliamentary elections are scheduled for the end of next year.
"It is fairly clear we are headed toward a government by the Liberal Party or centered around PNL, the nuances will be clarified in coming days," Iohannis said after consultations with political parties.
The transitional cabinet is most likely to be headed by PNL leader Ludovic Orban, although Iohannis stopped short of publicly endorsing Orban for the job.
Prime Minister Viorica Dancila's government collapsed on October 10 after losing a no-confidence vote in parliament. Dancila, who is the leader of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), and the rest of her cabinet will stay on in a caretaker capacity until the formation of the transitional government.
The October 10 vote passed when 238 deputies cast ballots in favor of the no-confidence motion, five more than what was needed for a majority in the 465-seat legislature.
Dancila's position became increasingly shaky after she lost her parliamentary majority in August following the defection of the junior partner in the governing coalition, the Liberal-Democratic Alliance (ALDE).
ALDE withdrew its support after its leader lost the nomination as the coalition's presidential candidate to Dancila.
Dancila became prime minister in early 2018 with the backing of then-PSD leader Liviu Dragnea, who could not take the job himself because he had a suspended prison conviction for influence peddling.
The PSD-ALDE alliance came to power at the end of 2016 and was immediately faced with huge street protests over judicial moves many Romanians saw as threatening the rule of law and weakening anti-corruption legislation. Romania is one of the poorest and most corrupt EU countries.
The coalition has been repeatedly warned by the European Union and the United States for reversing hitherto successful reforms.
Anti-government protests reached a peak in August 2018, when a 100,000-strong demonstration in Bucharest in support of the rule of law was violently supressed by riot police.
Scores of people sustained injuries and one person apparently died after riot police used tear gas, water cannons, and batons against peaceful protesters.
The popularity of the PSD-led coalition sank to new lows in 2019, when it sustained a heavy defeat in May at the hands of the PNL and a newly formed center-right party, the Save Romania Union (USR), in the European Parliament elections.
A day after the election, Dragnea lost an appeal in a second influence-peddling trial and was immediately incarcerated after being sentenced to three years in prison.
Dancila is also the PSD candidate in the presidential poll, but her chances to accede into a runoff with Iohannis appear seriously dented after her government was voted out of power.
Iohannis, who is backed by the PNL, looks likely to face another center-right opponent, USR leader Dan Barna, in a second round if he doesn't get more than 50 percent of the vote on November 10.