Romania’s parliament approves new government

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Opposition members of parliament hold leaflets showing prime minister-designate Florin Citu, reading “The Black Book” during a session called to vote on the government team in Bucharest, Romania, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020. Romania’s president Klaus Iohannis appointed on Tuesday, the outgoing finance minister as prime minister-designate after three pro-Western center-right groups joined forces to keep out of power a left-leaning populist party that won most votes at a parliamentary election earlier this month. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania’s parliament on Wednesday approved a new liberal government and prime minister, keeping out of power a left-leaning populist party that won most votes at a parliamentary election earlier this month.

Some 260 lawmakers in Romania’s 465-seat, two-chamber assembly on Wednesday voted for the new government, while 186 voted against.

Former investment banker and finance minister Florin Citu become the new prime minister at a time when Romania is struggling against the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout.

“I assure you that I will not deceive your trust,” Citu told the parliament. “We will do everything we can to achieve the two objectives: to get over the health crisis as soon as possible and to get the economy back on its feet.”

Citu had stints as an economist for the New Zealand central bank and the European Investment Bank before entering politics in 2016. He studied in the U.S.

He is from the ruling National Liberal Party (NLP) whose leader and former Prime Minister Ludovic Orban resigned in the wake of the Dec. 6 vote. Citu was backed by three more parties, giving him a majority in Romania’s two-chamber parliament.

The opposition Socialist Democratic Party (PSD) won the most votes in the election — around 30%. But it could not muster support from more than half of lawmakers in the assembly to be able to form a government.

The PSD, which held power before the current administration, has faced accusations of populism and corruption that triggered months of street protests before the NLP took over a year ago.

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