Romanian coalition partner quits government amid crisis

National/World

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania’s governing center-right coalition faces a no-confidence vote in parliament after junior partner USR-Plus resigned from the government on Tuesday.

The party’s resignation caps a week of political turmoil that erupted when Prime Minister Florin Citu fired justice minister and USR-Plus member Stelian Ion for not signing off on a 10 billion euro ($12 billion) regional infrastructure development program.

“This morning we did what we announced,” Dan Barna, leader of USR-Plus, posted online on Tuesday. “We registered and resigned, together with the USR PLUS ministers, at the prime minister’s office. We are moving forward.”

All six ministers from the junior coalition party have quit. The governing coalition, which has 56% of seats in parliament, is composed of Citu’s Liberals, USR-Plus, and the Hungarian minority party UDMR.

The move will lead to a parliamentary vote of no-confidence against Citu, who is backed by President Klaus Iohannis. For a no-confidence motion against the prime minister to be carried, it would need at least 234 votes in parliament and would rely on support from the opposition leftist Social Democrat Party (PSD).

Over the past few days, the PSD has opted against taking part in no-confidence motions against Citu, who has accused USR-Plus of behaving “like spoiled children.”

USR-Plus had voiced concerns over how regional development funds – which would give power to local authorities – would be spent. The party called their justice minister’s sacking an “abusive revocation.”

Barna has said that his party is willing to keep the current Liberal-led coalition together but that his party will not do so with Citu at the helm.

“We cannot move forward with a prime minister who governs without a minimum respect for coalition agreements,” Barna said.

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