Romanian coalition pulls support for own prime minister

Romanian Prime Minister Sorin Grandeanu on February 4, 2017 in Bucharest | Andrei Pungovschi/AFP via Getty Images

Sorin Grindeanu refused to resign, even though nearly all his cabinet has quit.

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Romania’s governing Social Democrats and their junior coalition partner, ALDE, set in motion a no-confidence vote in parliament against their own prime minister, accusing him of falling behind schedule with the coalition’s agreed reform program.

Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu has refused to resign, despite the resignations of all but one of the 26 ministers in his cabinet, and accuses Social Democrat (PSD) party leader Liviu Dragnea of a power grab. He was put in charge of the coalition government in January after the PSD won 46 percent of votes in December’s parliamentary election.

In the second major political crisis facing Romania in six months, following anti-corruption protests earlier this year, the Social Democrats and ALDE withdrew support from Grindeanu on Wednesday.

Grindeanu has turned for help to former PSD Prime Minister Victor Ponta, who was ousted following popular protests in November 2015 and has since been sidelined by Dragnea. Grindeanu appointed Ponta secretary-general of the government on Friday.

“Starting a no-confidence vote is a nuclear war between PSD and PSD,” Ponta told reporters before the no-confidence motion was read in parliament on Sunday.

Ponta said on Friday he would try to convince PSD lawmakers not to vote against their own government, warning that the party risked following in the footsteps of France’s Socialist Party, which has performed dismally in this year’s presidential and parliamentary elections.

The no-confidence motion read in parliament on Sunday by PSD senator Mihai Fifor said Grindeanu needed to resign to enable the coalition to form a new government.

“The normal, responsible thing would have been for Sorin Grindeanu to resign. This political crisis could have been avoided,” said the motion.

Three opposition parties said they didn’t want to get involved in the PSD’s internal war and may skip the no-motion debate ahead of the vote, due on Wednesday morning. Union Save Romania, the second biggest opposition party, called for early elections, saying that PSD has demonstrated it is incapable of running the country.

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