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News 18 Nov 15

Romania Parliament Backs New Experts' Govt

Romanian MPs have approved the formation of a new technocratic government under Dacian Ciolos, which will steer the country until elections take place next year.

Marian Chiriac
Romania's parliament approved the new government.

Romania's parliament on Tuesday approved the new government of Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos by 389 votes in favour to 115 against.

"We want to act efficiently and achieve good results, so that people regain confidence in public policies. Parliament will have a reliable partner in the government,” Ciolos told MPs after the vote.

"This government has no political objective more important than supporting and strengthening democracy," he added.

A former EU Commissioner, Ciolos named a technocratic cabinet on Sunday, after the previous government of Victor Ponta collapsed following mass protests over a nightclub fire that killed 56 young people.

The new government, a mixture of experts, diplomats and civil society activists, is to run the country until general elections are held in December 2016.

From the initial proposed list of ministers, Ciolos withdrew the proposed health minister, a 29-year-old surgeon, after photos appeared of him modelling underwear.

He also withdrew his proposed justice minister, an anti-corruption activist, after many critics said she was poorly prepared for her parliamentary hearings.

Many see Romania's first experts' government as a direct criticism of traditional politicians who are perceived as being corrupt and removed from the problems of ordinary people.

It has assumed some difficult tasks, according to the government's programme.

The new ministers will focus on preparing next year’s elections and on increasing central government’s efficiency.

It plans to change the electoral law, so that the elections for mayors and county council heads take place in two rounds. It will also create more electoral wards abroad in order to allow Romanians living abroad to vote more easily.

On the economic side, the government will maintain the tax cuts set by former Prime Minister Ponta, including the cut in VAT from 24 to 20 per cent in January 2016.

Finance Minister Anca Paliu Dragu said during her hearing with the parliamentary experts' committee that the government will keep the annual deficit below 3 per cent of GDP next year. Dragu added that Romania does not need a new accord with IMF.

The new government aims to consolidate Romania’s macroeconomic indicators by focusing on attracting more EU funds and developing infrastructure, and on increasing the country’s role in regional and EU politics.

Commentators generally view the new government as competent but warn that it has only a limited mandate.

"I hope it will continue the anti-corruption campaign and not undertake any populist moves ahead of the local and parliamentary elections next year,” sociologist Alfred Bulai said.

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