Romanian government survives no-confidence vote

Romanian government survives no-confidence vote
Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu reaffirmed that the government will not adopt emergency decrees on sensitive sectors.
By Carmen Simion in Bucharest February 8, 2017

The Romanian government led by Sorin Grindeanu survived a no-confidence vote in parliament on February 8, just one month after the new cabinet was endorsed.

The no-confidence motion was filed by opposition parties after the government adopted a controversial emergency decree partly decriminalising abuse of office, a move that has also triggered ongoing mass protests in the country.

The outcome of the vote was in line with expectations, as the government is supported by a parliamentary majority made up of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE).

The decree has been criticised for putting at risk Romania's fight against corruption and being aimed at helping some politicians evade justice. Although the government gave in to pressure from the street and Romania's external partners and repealed the ordinance, the protests have not stopped. Several protesters were in front of the government's headquarters while the motion was voted in parliament, despite heavy snow and freezing temperatures.

The no-confidence motion received 161 votes in favour, eight votes against and 33 abstentions. Out of the total 432 MPs present, only 202 voted. MPs from the PSD, Alde and the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians Romania (UDMR), which usually supports the government, did not vote, according to local media.

Despite remaining in office, the government's image has been seriously hit by the scandal around the ordinance. Minister for Business, Trade and Entrepreneurship Florin Jianu announced on February 2 he would resign from the government, choosing “to leave a story which is not his with his head held high”.  The resignation or dismissal of the justice minister, held responsible for the ordinance, is expected in the coming days.

"A more profound reshuffle, potentially involving a change in the post of PM, should be expected only over the medium-term. This would result in another PSD-led government, as the party holds by far the largest number of seats in parliament and President Iohannis rejects the possibility of early elections," Teneo Intelligence commented on February 7.

Grindeanu reaffirmed on February 8 that the government will not adopt emergency decrees on sensitive sectors such as justice, according to Agerpres news agency.

Meanwhile PSD leader Liviu Dragnea, seen as one of the beneficiaries of the changes to the Criminal Code, said the party has lost up to 3% of its support following the scandal, according to stirileprotv.ro. The real figure is likely to be much higher.

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