Party Dispute Threatens Romania Coalition

Prime Minister Victor Ponta on Wednesday took over the role of interim Finance Minister while another member of his ruling Social Democrat Party, PSD, will temporarily head the economy portofolio.

The moves are the latest in a weeks-long feud among Romania’s ruling coalition members, which escalated after the parties failed to agree on cabinet changes.

The Liberal Party, PNL, is standing by its nomination of four ministers, which it made two weeks ago on 7 February, when it decided to replace interior, finance, health and economy ministries.

Disputes emerged as Ponta, the PSD leader, refused to accept the Liberals' nomination of Klaus Johannis, the popular mayor of Sibiu, to become Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.

The Liberals say that Ponta wants them out of the government ahead of the presidential and European elections due later this year.

The PNL president, Crin Antonescu, on Wednesday warned of a possible breakup of the rulling coalition by as early as next week.

“We’re noticing that a new alliance has been formed to gradually replace the current ruling coalition, as Ponta is building a government without the Liberals,” Antonescu said.

“By Tuesday of next week, Romania will have a government backed by the current ruling coalition or by another alliance, which would lack legitimacy," he predicted.

"We would immediately ask for that government’s resignation on those grounds,” Antonescu added.

Early this week, Ponta said that he would not trigger the break-up of the four-party coalition and sought support for the cabinet changes from its existing members.

The centre-left ruling Social Democratic Union, USL, holds around 70 per cent of the seats in parliament. It...

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