Romania’s largest opposition party, the Social Democratic Party (PSD), filed a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Ludovic Orban’s government on August 17.
Party leader Marcel Ciolacu said the motion had been launched because of the government’s poor handling of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
However, the motion looks like a pre-election move by the PSD, as Romania will hold both local and parliamentary elections shortly, with the latter expected to take place in November.
The PSD won the last general election back in 2016, but since then its support has fallen sharply, following a series of corruption scandals and internal rifts. It was ousted from power in a no-confidence vote in 2019 and is hoping to avoid a rout at the hands of the Liberals and other centre-right parties in the upcoming vote.
It accuses Orban’s government of having “failed miserably in managing the pandemic and the economy. Romania is going in a profoundly wrong direction. Every day with this government in office, the country is moving rapidly towards recession, austerity and severe impoverishment,” says the motion published on the PSD’s website.
Romania has one of the largest outbreaks in the Central and Southeast Europe region, having just topped 70,000 cases to date. After the initial strict lockdown appeared to have brought the disease under control, new cases have been rising rapidly recently, with well over 1,000 reported most days, though the number fell below the 1,000 mark on August 17. The country will remain under a state of alert until mid-September.
Orban responded later on August 17, accusing the PSD of trying to gain power immediately ahead of the elections in order to "steal votes".
"To file a motion of censure now, three months before the parliamentary elections, when the Romanians will be the ones to decide who will lead Romania, is also an irresponsible act against Romania's interests," Orban said as reported by Hotnews.
"It is a political adventure that does not have any objective behind it for Romania, which risks blowing up Romania in an extremely difficult moment, in which a government with full powers is absolutely necessary. The aim is to seize power to organise local and parliamentary elections. That is in their head, to steal the vote and use all state institutions to maximise their electoral score,” he added.
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