Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis nominated the former defence minister and retired army general Nicolae Ciuca as the next Prime Minister on Monday (Nov. 22) after consultations with parliamentary parties and groups at the Cotroceni Palace.
The Southeast European country has been in political paralysis since September when a centrist coalition was ousted in a no-confidence vote.
Unlike the first time he was nominated, when Ciuca was supported only by the National Liberal Party (PNL), the nomination is now backed by a broad coalition.
“A solid majority has been formed in parliament, including the National Liberal Party (PNL), the Social Democratic Party (PSD), the Democrat Union of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR) and the ethnic minorities’ group. This majority proposed me a name of a prime minister, and I accepted,” the head of state stated.
The Liberals, the UDMR, and the Social Democrats had said they would install a cabinet on Thursday (Nov. 25). Ciuca will appear before parliament for a vote of confidence due on Thursday.
Under the agreement between the PNL, PSD and UDMR, the coalition will rotate premiers every one and a half years. Ciuca will step down in July 2023 to let the Social Democrats’ leader Marcel Ciolacu to take over as prime minister.
The parties have also already agreed among them on sharing the posts in the government. The PSD is holding the strongest representation: nine ministries, including the powerful finance, farming, defence and transport. The Liberals are asigned eight ministries. They will be at the helm of key departments such as justice, energy, home and foreign affairs. The ethnic Hungarians are assigned three ministries.
The coalition agreed to raise pensions by 10% next year along with other measures, including hiking child benefits and the minimum statutory wage. Retirees with small pensions will receive a one-off subsidy of RON1,200 in January to help them withstand the increases in utility prices this winter.
A 13th monthly allowance will be disbursed to those with disabilities.
The impact of the measures in the social package amounts to RON13.6bn (€2.7bn, over 1% of GDP), according to Ciuca.
In parliament, only the Save Romania Union (USR) and the Alliance for the Union of Romanians (AUR) will now remain the opposition.
The Save Romania Union, USR, criticised the PNL-SPD deal on splitting the premiership and accused Iohannis of forging this alliance to help the two parties to plunder the national budget and the European recovery money.
“The ‘rotating leadership’ blessed by President Iohannis helps one thing – the PSD and PNL to have access in turn to resources and share public money fraternally,” the former USR Justice Minister, Stelian Ion, said.
Ciuca, 54, a Liberal, served in U.S.-led military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also served as an interim PM in 2020.
The Liberals initially resisted joining forces with the Social Democrats and analysts have said a political setup of centrists and leftists could find itself on a bumpy road in the months ahead.
“Political crisis is over” Romanian president swears in new government
Romania’s Parliament on Thursday (Nov 25) gave the vote of confidence to the new government led by Nicolae Ciuca. There were 318 votes in favour and 126 against. A minimum number of 234 votes in favour were needed for the proposed government to be invested by Parliament.
“We are Romania’s government, as we pledged to maintain the Romanian citizen at the centre of our attention and to do everything possible to overcome all these problems that we have been facing because of the COVID crisis, and to determine the lines of effort needed for Romania’s development,” Agerpres quoted Ciuca as saying.
President Klaus Iohannis signed later on Thursday the decree for the appointment of the new government.
“The political crisis is over, but the other crises aren’t, nor have the problems disappeared,” said the head of state at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace, where members of the government were sworn in.
With reporting by Agerpres, Reuters, Balkan Insight