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Iran Press TV

Romanian PM Orban quits after party loss in elections

Iran Press TV

Tuesday, 08 December 2020 7:27 AM

Romanian Prime Minister Ludovic Orban has resigned following the defeat of his Liberal Party in legislative polls, though his centrist camp is in a position to form a ruling coalition against triumphant leftists.

The opposition left-wing Social Democratic Party (PSD) won the elections on Monday but failed to secure enough votes to form a viable majority against Orban.

With 95 percent of the votes counted, the PSD had gained nearly 30 percent of the ballots for both houses of parliament, while Liberals won only 25 percent. The centrist USR-PLUS alliance — a likely coalition partner for the Liberals — got 15 percent.

Romania's next parliament appears set to have only five parties, including the ethnic Hungarian UDMR and the new Alliance for Uniting Romanians (AUR), which is an ultra-nationalist group established a year ago that won nine percent of the votes.

The leaders of the National Liberal Party (PNL), USR-PLUS, and UDMR announced on Sunday that they would favor a center-right coalition government. Most of them further ruled out negotiating with the PSD.

Pointing to the poll results, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis — a Liberal ally — told reporters on Monday that the centrists had the best chance of forming a functioning government coalition.

Meanwhile, Orban, who had claimed victory earlier on Monday, declared that he would still work toward building a coalition, saying, "I've done my best, we've done our best."

Under Romanian law, the president nominates a prime minister after an election and any necessary coalition talks, and can bypass the winning party if it fails to secure an outright majority.

Iohannis said he would convene party seniors soon.

The USR-PLUS has already announced plans to propose former European agriculture commissioner and the current president of the Europe Renew group in the European parliament, Dacian Ciolos, as their first choice for premier during consultations with Iohannis.

The EU would welcome a government led by the PNL, after years of efforts by a succession of PSD Romanian cabinets failed to persuade Brussels that they were serious about combating endemic graft. The PSD denies charges of any wrongdoing.

The PSD has fought off allegations of fiscal populism and of attempting to force courts to protect party faithful suspected of corruption.

The PSD's last cabinet collapsed in 2019 after the imprisonment of former party leader Liviu Dragnea on corruption charges, although the party maintained its control of the legislature while Orban was in government.

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