Romania’s two largest political parties on Monday agreed to form a broad coalition government, ending weeks of political paralysis as the country faced a surge in coronavirus cases and sharply rising energy prices.
Nicolae Ciuca, a 54-year-old former army general, has been appointed prime minister to head a center-right National Liberal Party (PNL) coalition with his main rival, the center-left Social Democrats (PSD).
Together with the ethnic Hungarian party UMDR, the trio will have a two-thirds majority in parliament. The agreement is expected to be approved Thursday in a parliamentary vote of confidence.
For weeks, Romania has had some of the highest infection and death rates in the world, putting tremendous pressure on its hospitals, as vaccine uptake has lagged far behind its EU counterparts.
“Romanians expect us to provide solutions to combat the impact of pandemic and the energy crisis,” Ciuca told reporters on Monday.
He said the government would also focus on a social agenda, with growing demands from the PSD for higher pensions and family allowances as inflation reached multi-year highs.
The Liberal and Social Democrats have agreed to keep the prime minister’s post in rotation, which will change 18 months from now. Elections are due to take place in late 2024.
The PSD will control most of the important ministries in what is widely regarded as a political victory. The PNL won elections a year ago, but its government collapsed after a former junior coalition partner pulled out, leading to weeks of efforts to find a new administration.
“This is an unnatural alliance between former enemies,” analyst Ion Ionita told the Financial Times. “It depends on how the government performs. . . Romania could overcome the crisis in the next few months and we will see how the government survives in the next year. In any case, I doubt it will last long. ”
Months of strife within the Liberal ranks cost the party popular support: The most recent poll by CURS found that the Social Democrats were by far the strongest party, with 38 percent support, compared to 18 percent for the Liberals.
When asked who was responsible for the crisis in the country, the poll found that more than two-thirds at least to some extent blamed either Liberal President Klaus Iohannis or his PNL.
“The government is currently strong enough, he has the full support of the president. “Both the prime minister and the liberals are very weak in this government,” Ionita said.
The extremist, anti-vaccine AUR party is now clearly the third largest political force in the country, and Ionita said any mismanagement by the next government would likely lead to a further strengthening of the far right.