Ciolos steps in to fill Romania’s power vacuumReading Time: < 1 minute
President Klaus Iohannis has invited Save Romania Union (USR) leader Dacian Ciolos to form a government in Romania, which is in the midst of a political crisis. The country has been without a prime minister since last week, when MPs dismissed Florin Citu of the National Liberal Party (PNL). Ciolos’s USR triggered the collapse of the nine-month-old PNL-USR coalition by initiating a no-confidence vote in Citu after the sudden dismissal of USR justice minister Stelian Ion.
It came as a surprise when Iohannis – who has consistently supported PNL and last week criticised USR for bringing down the Citu government – invited the leader of the liberal, progressive USR to form a government. Former EU Commissioner Ciolos is seen as a unifying figure, however, having led a technocratic government in 2016 with the support of all major parties. “Our goal is to pull Romania out of crisis and for this we need great responsibility from all political forces,” Ciolos said.
This time Ciolos is embroiled in party politics, however. Even before Iohannis’s announcement, the leaders of the two largest parliamentary groupings, PNL and the Social Democratic Party (PSD), said they would not enter into coalition with URS. Without PNL onside, Ciolos now has ten days to persuade the centre-left PSD and the right-wing populist Alliance for the Union of Romanians (AUR) to form a minority government. For its part, USR says it only objected to Citu, not the coalition agreement, and would like to continue with the addition of Romania’s ethnic Hungarian minority party UDMR. Cilos’s party would even accept a prime ministerial nomination from PNL, as long as it is not Citu, USR insiders told local media.