Romania’s parliament endorses technocrat government

Romania’s parliament endorses technocrat government
By Iulian Ernst in Bucharest November 17, 2015

Romania’s new technocratic government led by prime minister-designate Dacian Ciolos has been endorsed by both chambers of parliament by 389 votes for and 115 against. The only parties that voted against were the Alliance of European Liberals (ALDE) and the Popular Party (PP). The new government is expected to run the country until parliamentary elections next autumn.

Initially declared to be a government of technocrats with no political bias – in response to  pressure from demonstrators who had forced out former Prime Minister Victor Ponta –  the cabinet has ended up being a team that brings together less visible representatives of the two major parties along with many experts with backgrounds in EU bodies.

The new government is backed by an informal coalition of the two major political parties and contains various political orientations within that, which could cause internal political tensions during its one-year term.

While a government of technocrats should in theory prevent populist moves ahead of local and parliamentary elections next year, lawmakers will predictably be inclined to take steps with a negative impact on the fiscal consolidation in order to maximise the popularity of their parties.

Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis appointed Ciolos, a former European Commissioner for Agriculture, as prime minister-designate on November 10. Ciolos was nominated after Prime Minister Victor Ponta’s government resigned on November 4 in response to mass demonstrations in Bucharest and other cities, when tens of thousands of Romanians took to the streets demanding thorough political reform.

Ciolos met representatives of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) on November 15, before submitting the list of proposed ministers to lawmakers. He promised to keep in place the good parts of the public administration. Notably, one of the two new vice-prime ministers is Vasile Dancu – an influential PSD member, though not yet in a relevant leadership position.

The new government has expressed no particular plans for radical reforms; in fact, rather the opposite. Ciolos has promised to keep the fiscal policy drafted by his predecessor.