Romania's parliament votes PSD-ALDE coalition government into office

Romania's parliament votes PSD-ALDE coalition government into office Sorin Grindeanu

BUCHAREST (Romania), January 4 (SeeNews) - Romania's coalition government led by Social Democrat prime minister Sorin Grindeanu received the parliament's backing in a confidence vote on Wednesday.

A total of 295 MPs voted in favour of the new coalition government and 133 voted against. The coalition of left-wing Social Democrat Party (PSD)  and centre-right Liberal-Democrat Alliance (ALDE) needed 234 votes to win the confidence vote. The parliament's sitting was broadcast live by Romanian TV channel Digi24.

PSD and ALDE control among themselves 250 of 463 seats in the new parliament following December 11 election.

On Wednesday evening, the government ministers will take the oath of office at a ceremony led by the country's president Klaus Iohannis.

The cabinet lineup proposed by coalition partners PSD and ALDE received the support of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR). The other three political parties in parliament  - right-wing National Liberal Party (PNL), centre-right Save Romania Union (USR) and Popular Movement Party (PMP) voted against.

The new government features Alexandru Petrescu, general manager of postal operator Posta Romana as economy minister and Viorel Stefan, head of budget and finance committee in the lower house of parliament, as finance minister.

Sorin Grindeanu's government includes 4 ALDE ministers, 18 PSD ministers and four technocrats. Compared to the technocrat government, which has been in office since November 2015, the PSD-ALDE government will have five more ministers which makes it the biggest one since 2000, when the cabinet comprised 30 government ministers.

Prime minister Grindeanu will have two deputies - Sevil Shhaideh, who will also be minister of regional development, and ALDE co-chairman Daniel Constantin, who will serve as environment minister.

Sevil Shhaideh was the first candidate of the government coalition for prime minister but president Klaus Iohannis turned down the proposal. The second proposition was telecommunications minister Sorin Grindeanu. Iohannis accepted that proposal last week.

The coalition's proposal for the EU funds ministry is Toader Mihaela Virginia, who is general  manager of the analysis, programming and evaluation department at the same ministry.

PSD and ALDE created a new ministry of EU Affairs, which will be led by PSD member Ana Birchall.

The Grindeanu cabinet replaces the technocrat government led by former European agriculture commissioner Dacian Ciolos.

Sorin Grindeanu, 43, has been a PSD member since 1996. He graduated from the Faculty of Mathematics of Timisoara West University in 1997. In the period December 2014-November 2015 he served as minister of telecommunications and information society in Victor Ponta's cabinet. Most recently, he was president of Timis county council (since June 2016).

The new government's most urgent task will be to prepare the 2017 budget, which should be voted on by mid-January, PSD leader Liviu Dragnea said.

The governing programme announced by PSD envisages an increase of pensions and salaries, the construction of five new highways, new high-speed railways and eight regional hospitals, and the creation of more than 800,000 jobs.

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