|Romanian Prime Minister Emil Boc resigned on Monday morning in an unexpected move aimed to calm down political and social tensions amid ongoing anti-government street protests, as well as to preserve the country's macroeconomic stability, Realitatea TV reported. The ruling coalition still holds the parliament majority needed for appointing a new PM. President Traian Basescu has nominated Mihai Razvan Ungureanu, former head of the foreign intelligence services, SIE, to form a new cabinet. Ungureanu will keep in place most of the current cabinet ministers, daily Ziarul Financiar reported, while replacing the rest of them with top public servants already in the central government. This is likely to secure smooth functioning of the cabinet, but will not calm down political and social tensions. The opposition parties met Basescu late on Monday and kept pressing him to resign as well and open the way for early elections. Both Basescu and Boc come from the same party. Rumours circulated by TV stations suggested that Basescu plans to postpone the parliamentary elections, scheduled for the autumn of this year, until the spring of 2013 when presidential elections are due to take place. This would require shortening of the presidential term to four years by amending the constitution, a move that was considered previously. PM Nominee Ungureanu should come up in front of the parliament with a cabinet within ten days, but news agency Mediafax reported that the ruling coalition wants the new cabinet in office quicker. The parliament's expert committees would meet Ungureanu's nominees for consultative hearings by Wednesday, February 8. If the parliament rejects twice within 60 days the cabinet nomination, the president can then decide on early elections. Nonetheless, the president is allowed to seek alternative solutions. IntelliNews Comment : As long as the ruling coalition remains united, the political stability and the smooth functioning of the executive are guaranteed and the country is very likely to continue its precautionary agreements with the IMF, EC and WB in a satisfactory manner. The deadlines on structural reforms and on initial public offerings of stakes in key state-owned companies, which have already been postponed over the past year, have piled up and could hardly be met even by a regular cabinet under normal circumstances. Therefore, it is likely that part of the tasks will be postponed again. As long as the new would-be government demonstrates commitment and ability to prioritise, the IFIs will probably not object. Actually, they already demonstrated flexibility when admitting that the energy price liberalisation for residential users could be postponed. The electoral calendar remains however unclear, even if under the baseline scenario parliamentary elections are to be held this autumn. The opposition needs massive support from protestors to force early elections several months earlier. But the senior ruling party and President Basescu will predictably insist for regular elections held in November at the earliest.
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