No end in sight for Romania’s political chaos
With the parliament reconvening to debate a motion of no convince tabled against the Romanian government, PM Cîţu is in a tight spot. His cabinet is hemorrhaging political support, as the second largest party (USR) quit the center-right coalition earlier this week.
The Save Romania Union (USR) and PM Câţu’s National Liberal Party (PNL) together with the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (UMDR) came together at the end of 2020 with the purpose of forming a government that would both curb the spread of COVID and improve the standard of living in EU’s second poorest nation.Advertisement
USR’s decision to resign on Tuesday from the governing coalition came after its justice minister was swiftly sacked by PM Ciţu. USR has been running on an anti-corruption platform and the firing of its justice minister was seen as an attempt to temper with their governing agenda.
In response, the PM said that the justice minister interfered with an investment program worth €10bn, designed to revamp the country’s poor infrastructure. Cîţu said he will not accept any minister that opposed the modernization of Romania.
On the other hand the Save Romania Union party replied that the investment program is nothing more than a sham and the money will go to Cîţu’s political supporters as an incentive to back the PM in the upcoming leadership contest at the head of the PNL party.Advertisement
Furthermore, USR together with the populist and nationalist Alliance for the Union of Romanians (AUR) tabled a motion of no confidence against the remaining Cîţu cabinet.
To pass, it will need to be backed by 234 MPs. That means USR PLUS and AUR would require significant support, mainly from the opposition Social Democrats(PSD), which has the largest number of MPs. So far, the Social democrats are staying out of the political battle, but pundits believe that PSD is in fact secretly backing PM Cîţu, trying to block a motion of no confidence and negotiating their support for the PM in exchange for governmental leverage.
And as if things weren’t complicated enough, the PM cried foul in Brussels, complaining to EU officials that "the alliance between USR-PLUS and AUR creates the premise for bringing a neo-fascist party to power".
No matter how this crisis will end, the damage is already done. This mess generated a political gridlock hampering the authorities’ ability to fight the coronavirus, as well as the rising energy prices. All in all, the government’s plans to stop the spread of coronavirus and improve the lives of Romanians failed.
Meanwhile, as parliamentary parties from both sides of the aisle are locking horns and horse-trading ministerial posts, Romania has recorded a spike in COVID new cases. The country went from less than 100 during the summer, to over 2,000 in just a few days.
The political chaos couldn’t come at a worse time, as ICU beds are quickly filling up and medical staff is left unprepared for a 4th wave of COVID. The outgoing healthcare minister even complained that some of the staff members haven’t received payment in months.