Protesters vow to keep pressuring Romanian government, but ruling coalition head says prime minister has full support.
Romanian Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu has been ousted after a vote of no confidence organised by the chairman of his own ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD).
Liviu Dragnea, the PSD chairman, managed to muster 241 out of 251 votes in favour of his motion in parliament on Wednesday.
There were 233 votes needed to force a new government in Bucharest.
Speaking to the press after the no-confidence vote, Grindeanu said he would “carry on with his duties as caretaker prime minister in accordance to Romanian law until a new cabinet will be sworn in”.
“I will also remain a member of the PSD because I do not change my mind overnight,” Grindeanu added, even though the party’s ruling body had already decided to cancel his membership.
Romania was thrown into a deep political crisis after Grindeanu and Dragnea had a falling-out last week.
Dragnea then called on all cabinet members to hand in their resignations in order to force Grindeanu to step down.
The prime minister refused to abide by his party chairman’s orders, thus forcing a first in Romanian post-communist history: a ruling party voting its own government out of office.
The opposition parties were present, but did not cast any vote, accusing the PSD of turning an internal dispute between Dragnea and Grindeanu into a parliamentary matter.
Speaking in parliament, Dragnea said after “six months in office the government is faring OK-ish. We didn’t win 45 percent of the popular vote to settle for that”.
He was referring to a government performance review that allegedly found it had failed to uphold an ambitious governing programme.
The review stated that 60 percent of promises made during the election campaign in 2016 had not been fulfilled and that almost 30 percent had only partially been implemented. For his part, Grindeanu disputed the document.
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis has been informed about the parliamentary vote and has already called for political consultations on Monday in order to form a new cabinet.
In January, the president rejected the PSD’s first appointee for the prime minister’s job, Sevil Shhaideh, who would have been Romania’s first woman head of cabinet and first Muslim head of cabinet. Grindeanu, the PSD’s second choice, was then appointed prime minister.
Following December’s elections, Iohannis refused to name Dragnea as prime minister, citing a prior criminal conviction for voter fraud. Dragnea is now Speaker of the House.
Before Wednesday’s parliamentary vote, Iohannis said he would not “ignore last year’s criteria. I will not name anything else than a prime minister with proven integrity”.
According to the Romanian constitution, the president is not obliged to name a prime minister from the ruling coalition.
The appointee is tasked with forming a cabinet, but then has to pass a vote in parliament.
During the debate, Grindeanu told MPs that the no-confidence motion would be a huge mistake.
“With each vote you cast against this government, the PSD risks losing the PM post. There is no guarantee that President Iohannis will name another PSD member in my place,” he said.
Grindeanu went on to warn MPs that “no matter who takes my job, Dragnea will not let him or her exercise the office of prime minister”.