Romanian President Klaus Iohannis designated Florin Citu as a candidate for the position of PM on Tuesday (Dec.22). Earlier, the head of state invited the chairs of the political parties and formations represented in Parliament for consultations in order to nominate the candidate for PM.
This was the second round of consultations of Iohannis with the representatives of the parties that entered Parliament, following the results of general elections held earlier this month. The parliamentary elections of Dec. 6 resulted in a fragmented parliament.
The big winner was the Social Democratic Party (PSD) (29.69 per cent in the Chamber of Deputies and 30.13 per cent in the Senate). The National Liberal Party (PNL)- the party of President Iohannis, came in second (25.18 per cent in the Chamber of Deputies and 25.58 per cent in the Senate). USR-PLUS, a party with a strong anti-corruption agenda, took third place (14.75 per cent in the Chamber of Deputies and 15.24 per cent in the Senate).
The biggest surprise, however, was the performance of the Alliance for the Union of Romanians (AUR), a party formed a year ago that is described by some as having extreme-right undertones. AUR took 8.69 per cent in the Chamber of Deputies and 8.77 per cent in the Senate. During the campaign for the elections, AUR positioned itself as an “anti-system movement.”
The smallest party in the new parliament is the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR) which represents the Hungarian minority of Romania. UDMR just passed the five per cent threshold with 5.98 per cent in the Chamber of Deputies and 6.13 per cent in the Senate.
Voter turnout was the lowest since 1989, the year Romanians toppled the communist regime. Out of a total number of 18 million registered voters, only 33.24 per cent went to the polls. Among Romanians living abroad, USR-PLUS came first with 30 percent of the vote, followed by PNL (25.6 percent) and AUR (25.2 percent).
PSD should have been the first party to talk to the Romanian President on Tuesday at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace, but the Social Democrats declined the invitation.
“We’ll exercise a determine opposition within the Romanian Parliament” PSD chairman Marcel Ciolacu wrote in a letter to President Iohannis.
AUR, which means gold in Romanian, attended the talks at Cotroceni, yet announcing they will not vote Citu Government.
“We are attending the consultations only from the institutional point of view. We are disappointed by the way consultations are being simulated. Our position is the same: we’ll not vote for Citu Government”, said AUR co-founder and co-president George Simion.
On Monday (Dec. 21), the PNL, the USR-PLUS and UDMR signed a coalition agreement for a future government led by Citu.
The US-educated ex-banker has been a liberal senator since 2016 and has served as finance minister for the past year. Before entering politics Citu was an economist for the New Zealand central bank and the European Investment Bank. He was briefly appointed as prime minister by Iohannis in February this year after the government lost a confidence motion, but declined to take up the position.
The PSD won the elections four years ago but lost power in November 2019 when the PNL came to power in Romania. Iohannis had previously said he would not want PSD to return to government during his current term, which ends in 2024. PSD still has the largest network of party organizations in the country, a loyal, motivated electorate, particularly in rural areas and dominates most of the local administration in those areas.
The PNL – USR-PLUS – UDMR Cabinet, headed by Florin Citu, has been voted by the Romanian Parliament by 260 to 186 on Wednesday (Dec. 23) evening. The government needed minimum 228 votes to receive the vote of confidence. Both the PSD and the AUR voted against the government, with AUR announcing they will refer the investiture of the new Cabinet to the Constitutional Court. The members of the government took the oath of office, on Wednesday evening, in a ceremony at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace.