PM designate’s withdrawal upends Romanian politics

The joint session of Parliament was supposed to vote Thursday afternoon on the investiture of the Government of Prime Minister designate, Florin Cîțu, but Cîțu resigned as PM-designate just minutes before the vote. His resignation was announced by the Presidential Administration right before the session started. Given the circumstances, President of the Chamber of Deputies Marcel Ciolacu suspended the meeting. President Klaus Iohannis said on Thursday that he took note of Cîțu’s decision and has invited the political parties for a government formation consultation this afternoon.

The Presidential Administration announced the resignation of the PM-designate just a couple of minutes before the start of the session that was to vote on a new government led by Cîțu. Cîțu’s decision is related to the novel coronavirus and the decision of the Constitutional Court regarding a Government Emergency Ordinance adopted in the beginning of February. The ordinance would have modified the organization of the parliamentary elections, but the court found the proposed amendments totally incompatible with the constitution. This decision eliminated the chance for early parliamentary elections – coveted by the National Liberal Party and President Klaus Iohannis – and the municipal elections to be organized at the same time. Moreover, several political parties had announced that they would vote for Cîțu’s government on Thursday, so, in fact, the PNL’s plan to trigger early elections would have failed. Their plan can only now come about if they start the government formation procedure over from the beginning.

Florin Cîțu said Thursday he decided to resign because he thinks the national chairman of the party should also be the prime minister. Photo: Facebook/Florin Cîțu

The political parties agreed to vote for the government because they think that in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, the government crisis should be ended. They also agreed that the country needs a stable government, and early elections should not be forced. The media is reporting that Cîțu stepped down to allow the chairman of the National Liberal Party, Ludovic Orban, to form a government. This would make sense in the case that Parliament would have accepted Cîțu’s cabinet, which was only formed to fail the vote so that PNL could trigger early elections. Now, President Klaus Iohannis has to invite the leaders of the parliamentary parties and formations to Cotroceni Palace for a consultation in order to pick a candidate for the position of prime minister, again…

Resigning PM-designate Florin Cîțu said Thursday that he decided to resign because he “strongly believes” that the national chairman of the party must also be the prime minister in order to be successful in the elections. He added that he took the current situation in Romania into consideration when deciding, as well. Cîțu submitted his government and his program to Parliament on February 28, and hearings for his ministerial candidates were scheduled last week.

Friday afternoon President Iohannis announced that the gave a mandate to form a government to the same Ludovic Orban, who has been leading an acting government since ousted with a vote of no confidence on February 5.

However, with the Romanian Parliament also hit by the coronavirus, some representatives have already retreated in voluntary isolation, meaning that in the foreseeable future there may not be enough representatives there for a quorum.

Title image: Romanian political parties agreed that in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, the government crisis should be ended. Photo: Facebook/Romanian Parliament

Author: Orsi Sarány