Romanian government collapses
Ruling coalition breaks up as Social Democrats quit to protest sacking of minister.
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2009 15:20 GMT
Ministers walked out in protest over the sacking of Dan Nica, the interior minister [AFP]

Romania's coalition government has collapsed, after Social Democrat ministers resigned in protest at the sacking of a member of the cabinet.

Social Democrat (PSD) ministers walked out of government on Thursday, three days after Dan Nica, Romania's interior minister, was sacked after he made comments about potential election fraud.

His remarks were widely interpreted as an accusation that the Liberal Democrats (PDL), the president's party, might try to cheat to get him re-elected.

"All PSD ministers, supporting Dan Nica, are announcing their resignation from government," Mircea Geoana, the party's leader, said on Thursday.

"The president [Traian Basescu] succeeded in triggering a political crisis."

Economic crisis

But Adriean Videanu, a Liberal Democrat economy minister, said the PSD was to blame for the crisis and called the party "hypocritical" for walking out.

The coalition's break up comes less than two months before a presidential election and, under Romanian law, no legislative votes can be held before a presidential poll.

The Democrat-Liberals, the remaining partners of the coalition, are able to rule alone for a few weeks, but their survival will depend on support from the opposition.

Economists have said the collapse could call into question Romania's ability to meet fiscal targets set by the International Monetary Fund in return for the $29bn aid package it led for the country this year.

"One needs to see how a minority government, if that's what we do get, can continue to adhere to the IMF programme. That's key," Koon Chow, a strategist at Barclays Capital, told the Reuters news agency.

"The worst that could happen is that the next tranche will be delayed for a few months, I don't think the next government will walk out of the programme," he said.

Romania is currently deep in recession, and dependent on an IMF loan to pay state sector salaries.

In recent weeks there have been protests and strikes by railway workers, magistrates and some public workers.

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