Romania’s ruling Liberals, rival leftists to rotate premiers in potential cabinet

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, right, waves next to Romanian prime minister Ludovic Orban, after exit polls were published, in Bucharest, Romania, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019. An exit poll by the IRES independent think tank showed Iohannis getting 66.5 % of the votes, with 33.5% for Social Democratic Party leader Viorica Dancila, a former prime minister. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Romania’s ruling Liberals and their former rivals the leftist Social Democrats will rotate prime ministers in a potential coalition government, party leaders agreed late on Tuesday, but negotiations continued, extending a policy deadlock.

Political infighting has left the European Union state with a caretaker government while energy costs rise, economic recovery slows and the country experiences its deadliest COVID-19 wave since the start of the pandemic.

The Liberals, whose centrist coalition government splintered more than two months ago in a dispute over a regional development fund, chose to negotiate a new majority with the Social Democrats rather than rebuild their old alliance.

They came to power in a national election in late 2020, campaigning against what they and Western states said were efforts by the Social Democrats to weaken the fight against corruption.

The leftist Social Democrats – who remain parliament’s biggest party with 157 seats to the Liberals’ 134 – have denied such efforts.

The parties are still struggling to agree on a host of issues, including the structure of the cabinet, and the scope of hikes in wages, pensions and child benefits.

Late on Tuesday, the Liberals voted in favour of a proposal for the two main parties to regularly rotate prime ministers, on condition that they go first.

But there were still disagreements over who the prime ministers will be. The Social Democrats have repeatedly said they will not accept Liberal Party leader Florin Citu as premier, after his current caretaker government failed a no confidence vote in October.

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