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Romanian PM-designate expects to win confidence vote that is key for EU policymaking

Akinkuade

Nov. 04, 2019

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romanian Prime Minister-designate Ludovic Orban said he expected several deputies from the rival Social Democratic camp to help his centrist minority cabinet win a parliamentary vote of confidence on Monday.
The outcome of the vote is important not only for Romania but also for the EU. A new European Commission was due to take over on Nov. 1, but Romania's political wrangling has prevented it from nominating a viable commissioner and risks pushing that missed deadline beyond the start of December.
The Social Democrats, who were ousted from government in a no-confidence vote spearheaded by Orban's Liberal Party on Oct. 10, and smaller center-left grouping Pro Romania have previously said they would boycott Monday's vote.
Without them, not enough lawmakers would be present to ensure the confidence vote for Orban's minority cabinet was valid. This would postpone a decision until after Romania's two-round presidential election on Nov. 10 and Nov. 24.
"I am confidently waiting for as big a number of lawmakers beyond the groupings from which we have already secured backing to exercise their right to vote and ... give Romanians a new government," Orban told reporters on Monday.
He added that several Social Democrat lawmakers had promised to vote for his cabinet and that he expected anywhere between 237 and 243 votes, above the 233 needed to pass.
Senior Pro Romania party member Daniel Constantin also said some of his colleagues would support the government.
"The majority of Pro Romania will not be present (at the vote), but there are six, seven, eight colleagues who will vote for the cabinet," Constantin said.
The two-chamber parliament started debates on the confidence motion at 1200 GMT. Deputies and senators will vote on the motion later in the day.
The leu currency was steady against the euro on Monday, but it has fallen 2.1% so far this year - making it central and eastern Europe's worst-performer - as widening deficits and delayed policymaking take their toll. Bucharest's blue chip index was down 0.2%.
The Social Democrats' expansionary fiscal and wage policies have increased Romania's budget and current account deficits, while changes to judicial legislation seen by Brussels as endangering the rule of law have dented investors' appetite.
"Romanian local financial markets should remain under the spell of political uncertainty," Raiffeisen Bank said in a research note.
If approved, Orban's cabinet would be in place until a parliamentary election next year but is likely to struggle to gain support from opposition lawmakers for its measures.
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