Ousted Romanian government restored

The joint session of the Romanian Parliament voted for the investiture of the exact same liberal government that was ousted in a vote of no confidence in the beginning of February. The government of Ludovic Orban, chairman of the National Liberal Party (PNL), was voted into power on Saturday, while several minister candidates and representatives of the Romanian Parliament were in voluntary isolation after the Parliament was also hit by the coronavirus.

In the midst of the coronavirus crisis, a joint session of the Romanian Parliament voted on Saturday for the investiture of the third and unchanged Orban government. Several of the ministerial candidates were quarantined at the end of last week, so they were interviewed via video conference by the commissions. After the candidate hearings, the lawmakers, wearing medical masks, walked one by one to the voting room in the Parliament, keeping a distance from one another, and voted with disinfected voting balls.

At the session, 286 deputies and senators voted “in favor” of the Orban cabinet and 23 voted “against.” A total of 233 votes were needed for the Government to pass. The usual plenary debate before the vote of confidence was canceled, and Ludovic Orban sent his “speech” to the legislators in writing.

The new/old government has since made it a priority to simplify the procedure for procuring the medical equipment needed to slow down the spread of the coronavirus. Orban asked state institutions, NGOs and citizens to cooperate to help stop the spread of the virus as well. He also admitted that the coronavirus epidemic will have negative social and economic consequences, but he assured people that the government will use every possible source of funding, state and EU, to support the economy.

The Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (known by its Hungarian acronym of RMDSZ) also voted in favor of the Orban government, but only because they thought that in the middle of the coronavirus crisis, the country needed a stable government. “The well-being and safety of the people is the most important at this time. We need a government that can act with full authority in order to slow the spread of the epidemic,” Hunor Kelemen, the chairman of the party said on Friday.

The Social Democratic Party (PSD) also voted for Orban and his cabinet, but only for the same reason as the RMDSZ. “The PNL and Iohannis do not deserve this vote, but Romanians deserve a functional government, which can react fast to the epidemic,” Marcel Ciolacu, PSD chairman, explained. “Is the Orban cabinet capable of handling the situation responsibly? It is hard to say. But the state institutions that are fighting the epidemic need stability,” he added.

However, the PRO Romania Party, led by Victor Ponta, and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) voted against the government. “My vote against the government is a protest against the irresponsible, loose governance of the Liberals,” said Ponta on Saturday. He also pointed out: They were prepared to vote for the government led by Cîţu, but he turned the responsibility down at the last minute so Ludovic Orban could return. Romania needed a responsible prime minister, and the legislators of the PSD should have voted against Orban, Ponta added.

“The president has asked us today to ridicule democracy. He appointed a prime minister who was ousted by a motion of no-confidence after he accepted 25 emergency government ordinances in a single day, among them the decree about the early elections, totally rejected by the Constitutional Court. The president re-appointed him, but he resigned as the Constitutional Court had found his designation unconstitutional. Then Iohannis – thinking again that the whole country is stupid – appointed another PM, who resigned 10 minutes before his investiture. What do they imagine? You should be ashamed of yourselves! And now the President, like nothing happened, asked Orban to form a government again!” wrote Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu, ALDE chairman, in a Facebook post on Saturday.

Title image: Ludovic Orban admitted: The coronavirus epidemic will have negative social and economic effects. Photo: Facebook/PNL

Author: Orsi Sarány