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Romania looks for third PM in seven months

Romania’s ruling Social Democrats met Tuesday to nominate a new prime minister after power struggles within the party forced out the impoverished EU country’s second premier in seven months.

world Updated: Jan 16, 2018 17:44 IST
Romania's Prime Minister Mihai Tudose leaves a meeting of the Social Democrat Party (PSD) in Bucharest, Romania, January 15, 2018.
Romania's Prime Minister Mihai Tudose leaves a meeting of the Social Democrat Party (PSD) in Bucharest, Romania, January 15, 2018.(REUTERS Photo)

Romania’s ruling Social Democrats met Tuesday to nominate a new prime minister after power struggles within the party forced out the impoverished EU country’s second premier in seven months.

This latest crisis also prompted Japan’s visiting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, on the final stop of a European tour, to cancel talks on Tuesday with the Romanian government, Romanian officials said.

Abe, who was expected in Bucharest late morning on the first ever visit to Romania by a Japanese premier, was due however to meet with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.

Romanian Prime Minister Mihai Tudose announced his resignation late Monday after senior members of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) voted to withdraw their support at a leadership meeting.

Last June, the party filed a no-confidence motion in then-prime minister Sorin Grindeanu, after he fell out with the powerful head of the PSD, Liviu Dragnea.

Dragnea is barred from public office due to an electoral fraud conviction but is widely seen as pulling the strings behind the scenes.

Dragnea said Monday he had “made two bad choices” for prime minister, adding that he would not make the same “mistake”.

Tudose’s resignation will have to be signed off by President Iohannis.

The centre-right head of state and fierce PSD critic also needs to approve the PSD’s new prime ministerial nominee.

The PSD returned to power in December 2016 after a thumping election victory, promising to boost wages and pensions and to slash taxes, but almost immediately hit problems.

In February 2017, the government backed down on altering anti-corruption laws after the biggest protests since the ouster of communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in 1989.

Fresh demonstrations have also greeted other legislation that critics -- including Brussels and Washington -- worry will weaken the battle against rampant corruption.

Economic growth has been one of the strongest in the European Union, however.