Ludovic Orban, the leader of Romania’s largest opposition party, was tasked on Tuesday with forming a government following the collapse of the previous Social Democrat administration.
Orban heads the National Liberal Party (PNL), a member of the center-right European People’s Party (EPP) alliance. If he manages to form a government, his party would be in charge of nominating the country’s next candidate for the European Commission.
Romania’s first candidate, Rovana Plumb of the Social Democrats, was rejected last month by the European Parliament. Should Orban nominate someone from his own party as Plumb’s replacement, that raises the prospect of the EPP gaining an extra spot in the next Commission at the expense of the Party of European Socialists.
The outgoing government proposed Dan Nica, a Social Democrat member of the European Parliament, to replace Plumb but incoming Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen did not nominate him.
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis had been consulting with party leaders since the Social Democrat government under Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă was toppled in a confidence vote in the national parliament last week. Dăncilă’s grip on power had become increasingly shaky in recent months, after her coalition partner quit and MPs from her own party abandoned its ranks.
Iohannis, a former leader of the National Liberal Party, said the PNL “was the only party that came to the consultations and said directly, although it will be hard, that it is willing to take on governing during this transition period.”
Iohannis said the new prime minister-designate will have a short mandate as he declared he favors an early parliamentary election.
The next parliamentary election is officially due at the end of 2020 or in early 2021, but it could be brought forward to early next year, after Romanians choose a new president next month.
Orban now has 10 days to come before the Romanian parliament with a proposed Cabinet and a governing plan. He needs the support of a majority of MPs to take office.
The European Commission and Western governments accused Dăncilă’s administration of backsliding on corruption and the rule of law. Dăncilă hit back by accusing her critics of double standards.
Orban, a 56-year-old former minister, said his government would offer Romanians “honesty, competence, integrity, dedication to serving the public interest and solutions to the big problems.”