Viorica Dancila moments after losing a no confidence vote
Romania’s centre-left government has been toppled after losing a no confidence vote, raising fears of an extended period of political uncertainty weeks before the presidential elections.
The removal of Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, who was appointed in January 2018 and was Romania’s first female premier, was narrowly defeated by 238 votes, five more than necessary. Her removal comes weeks before she is due to stand as the Social Democratic Party’s candidate in the presidential elections.
Dancila lost her parliamentary majority in August when the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats, ALDE, quit government due to a new policy. In addition, in May the Social Democratic Party, PSD, suffered a heavy loss at the European elections, coming second behind the National Liberal party with less than 23% of the vote.
Ludovic Orban, the leader of the National Liberal Party, PNL, stated that “We have stopped the Social Democrat party from hurting Romania”. This feeling has been strongly reciprocated by the Romanian public who have protested against the corrupt government a number of times between 2017 and 2019.
The PSD attempted to decriminalise corruption, which sparked the mass protests and resulted in the threat of legal action by the European Commission.
In May, Liviu Dragnea, the president of the PSD who was widely regarded as the most powerful figure in Romanian politics, was jailed for corruption the day after Romania’s European Parliament elections.
This was the fourth motion of no confidence in Romania since 2017, and Viorica Dancila was the country’s fourth prime minister in three years. She faced constant disagreements with President Klaus Iohannis, as well as power struggles within her own party and ridicule from the opposition.
PNL, the National Liberal Party, is now expected to form an interim coalition government after consulting with the President. Mr Iohannis has stated that the parties needed to be in agreement on a new government that has a “clear mandate” until the next parliamentary elections. This new administration could potentially last until 2020, although many parties have suggested calling early elections, which has never been done before in post-communist Romanian history.
A number of Romanian political analysts have suggested that the no-confidence vote has created numerous complications in assembling a new government.
Nevertheless, Ms Dancila still plans to stand in the presidential elections, adding that “I don't blame myself for anything and the government will go down in history as a good government”.
The leader of the Union to Save Romania, Dan Barna, labelled Viorica Dancila’s government “the most incompetent” since Romania’s revolution 30 years ago.
Unfortunately, this unrest comes at the worst possible time for a politically unstable Romania - although Romania is finally free from PSD’s malevolent and corrupt leadership, this situation will only continue to destabilize Romania and its economy.