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article imageRomania ruling left sinks own govt after power row

By AFP     Jun 21, 2017 in World

Romania's government fell Wednesday after the ruling party took the unusual step of passing a no-confidence vote in its own prime minister following internal power struggles.

The left-wing Social Democrat party (PSD) filed the motion against premier Sorin Grindeanu barely six months after winning a thumping election victory.

The PSD unexpectedly withdrew its support for Grindeanu on June 14, accusing him of "delays" in implementing reforms in the European Union's second-poorest country.

Grindeanu however refused to resign and denounced powerful PSD boss Liviu Dragnea for seeking to "concentrate all the power in his hands".

Dragnea, 54, was barred from running for premier because of a voter fraud conviction and is currently on trial for alleged abuse of power, a charge he denies.

Once Grindeanu became premier, Dragnea continued to pull the strings behind the scenes. At first Grindeanu complied but recently began asserting his independence, causing the fallout.

Wednesday's no-confidence motion passed with 241 to 10 votes.

The PSD and its ALDE coalition party are now expected to propose a new premier to centre-right President Klaus Iohannis.

The new prime minister will then have 10 days to secure a vote of confidence in parliament for his cabinet and policy plans.

Romania's economy has been doing well, enjoying the fastest growth rate -- 5.6 percent -- in the EU in the first quarter, while efforts to tackle corruption have begun to bear fruit.

But Romania can ill afford more instability, with the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission saying reforms are sorely needed.

It is the second major crisis to hit the PSD since it rode back into power in December, barely a year after being forced from office over a deadly nightclub blaze.

In February, mass protests forced the government to drop a bill aimed at watering down anti-corruption laws.

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