A week after Romania’s former European Commissioner Dacian Ciolos was nominated to form a technocrat cabinet, the two chambers of parliament voted to confirm the new government, which is expected to stay in office until scheduled elections late next year.
The vote of confidence on November 17 passed by 389 votes in favour, well above the simple majority of 247 MPs and senators needed, as the two biggest parties in parliament – the leftist social-democrats and centre-right liberals – made their support clear during the debate that preceded the ballot. Ciolos and his ministers were scheduled to take the oath of office during a ceremony at the presidency later in the evening.
Hurried hearings of ministerial candidates preceded the vote, spread over two days on November 16 and 17, with some hiccups along the way. Ciolos’ nominee for the justice portfolio, Freedom House director for Romania Cristina Guseth, was withdrawn even after she was confirmed by the parliamentary committees – after Guseth was subjected to a barrage of questions on matters of law, despite being told she had no degree in law – and replaced by Raluca Pruna, a former director of Transparency International’s chapter in Romania, who has spent the last several years in various positions with the European Commission.
For the finance portfolio, Ciolos nominated Anca Dragu Paliu, who was last an analyst with the European Commission and an expert with the International Monetary Fund before that. Vasile Dancu, a former member of the social-democrat party, was given the influential regional development portfolio.
The new government is not expected to make any major policy changes, with tax cuts and increased government spending measures proposed by the cabinet of former prime minister Victor Ponta still due to be implemented in the next year’s budget, which will be drafted by the Ciolos government.
Ponta resigned earlier this month following wide-spread protests against perceived government corruption, precipitated by the death of 56 people in a nightclub that was operating without the necessary safety permits. Ponta is also the subject of an investigation into alleged money laundering, tax evasion and document fraud.
(Romania’s parliament. Photo: George M. Groutas/flickr.com)