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Romania parliament endorses PM Ciuca's grand coalition government


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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Romania’s new Prime minister-designate Nicolae Ciuca, a retired four-star army general, delivers a press statement alongside Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, in Bucharest, Romania October 21, 2021. George Calin/Inquam Photos via REUTERS

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By Radu-Sorin Marinas

BUCHAREST (Reuters) -Romanian legislators endorsed the grand coalition government of Liberal Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca by an overwhelming majority on Thursday, inaugurating a rotating premiership deal to end a two-month long political stalemate.

Romania has been in political paralysis since a centrist alliance splintered in September, undermining efforts to cut large budget and trade shortfalls at a time of spiralling COVID-19 cases.

“We can finally offer predictability and guarantee stability and development. Today is the first day of a new approach to govern Romania to improve the economic, social and health situation of its citizens,” Ciuca told parliament.

Ciuca, 54, a retired general, will run the cabinet until May 25, 2023 under the rotating coalition agreement with the party’s former foes, Romania’s largest Social Democrat party (PSD).

Together with ethnic Hungarians’ party UDMR and an independent group of ethnic minorities, Ciuca’s government has an overwhelming backing of more than 70% of legislators.

On Thursday, the cabinet got backing from 318 legislators out of 444 deputies present.

The coalition will rotate premiers every 1-1/2 years. The PSD will hold the powerful finance, farming, defence and transport ministries and the Liberals will be at the helm of departments such as justice, energy, home and foreign affairs.

Political commentators have said, however, that despite a comfortable parliamentary majority the setup of centrists and leftists could find itself on a bumpy road in the months ahead. One trouble spot could be different views on reforming the judiciary.

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The coalition has agreed to keep unchanged the flat income and profit tax and decided to raise pensions by 10% next year along with other social measures, including hiking child benefits, to cost an overall 13.6 billion lei ($3.1 billion).

The Romanian leu, one of the world’s worst performing currencies this month, traded flat at 4.9479 to the euro by 1050 GMT.

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