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Romania's Orban resigns as Prime Minister after election setback

The PNL party came in second in its election, with 25.5% of the vote compared to 30% for the Social Democrats Party.

Romanian Prime Minister Ludovic Orban (centre) waits for exit polls in Bucharest yesterday.
Romanian Prime Minister Ludovic Orban (centre) waits for exit polls in Bucharest yesterday.
Image: Andreea Alexandru via PA Images

ROMANIA’S PRIME MINISTER Ludovic Orban has resigned, a day after a disappointing showing for his liberal party in parliamentary elections.

“I have today decided to tender my resignation,” Orban said in a televised statement after his National Liberal Party (PNL) came second to the left-wing opposition Social Democrats.

“My decision should clearly show that I’m not clinging to any position. For me the national interest comes before the party and personal one,” he added.

President Klaus Iohannis is expected to pick another cabinet minister to lead the government on an interim basis.

The PNL party came in second in yesterday’s parliamentary elections, with 25.5%, compared to 30% for the Social Democrats Party (PSD), according to results based on 95% of the votes counted.

Nevertheless, the liberals might continue to govern as part of a centre-right coalition, after president Klaus Iohannis suggested he won’t nominate a prime minister from the PSD.

The Covid effect

Romania’s president Klaus Iohannis hinted that he would ask the governing liberal party to carry on in office under a new coalition, despite a surprise win for the opposition socialists in yesterday’s parliamentary elections.

“It’s clear that centre-right parties got over 50% of the votes (…) This way, the PSD will remain outside political decision-making,” Iohannis said in a televised statement.

The PSD has dominated Romanian politics since the collapse of communism but its last spell in government was overshadowed by street protests and clashes with the European Union and Iohannis over judicial reforms.

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The PNL had campaigned on a modernising, pro-European platform and had been ahead in pre-election opinion polls.

However, it seems to have paid the price for its controversial handling of the coronavirus pandemic and attendant economic crisis.

© AFP 2020

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