Romanian leftists quit coalition government

Thu Oct 1, 2009 7:28am EDT

By Radu Marinas

BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Romania’s Social Democrats quit the coalition government on Thursday in protest at the sacking of a minister, raising the risk of the country failing to meet IMF conditions for aid.

The centrist Democrat-Liberals (PD-L), the Social Democrats’ coalition partners, can rule alone for a few weeks but will have to seek parliament’s approval for new ministers and their survival will depend on support from the opposition.

The center-left coalition went into crisis this week after Prime Minister Emil Boc suddenly sacked interior minister Dan Nica and proposed a replacement from his own PD-L party before a November 22 presidential election.

On Thursday President Traian Basescu, who has links to the PD-L, approved Nica’s dismissal.

“All PSD ministers, supporting Dan Nica, are announcing their resignation from government,” PSD leader Mircea Geoana told reporters after an emergency party meeting. “The president succeeded in triggering a political crisis.”

Economists said the break-up of the coalition put in question Romania’s ability to meet fiscal targets set by the IMF in return for the 20 billion euro aid package it led for Romania this year.

“It’s still very early days and one should be careful in jumping to conclusions. But of course one needs to see how a minority government, if that’s what we do get, can continue to adhere to the IMF programme. That’s key,” said Koon Chow, strategist at Barclays Capital.

“The worst that could happen is that the next tranche will be delayed for a few months, I don’t think the next government will walk out of the programme,” said Raffaella Tenconi of Wood & Co in Prague.

Observers said the political standoff reflected tactical maneuvering by the two ruling parties before the presidential ballot, rather than policy differences.

Boc’s PD-L and their leftist partners have ruled since they took power in December, sparring over cost-cutting reforms and trading blame for economic woes.

“The crisis is theirs now,” Nica told reporters.

The presidential election pits incumbent Basescu against PSD leader Geoana.

(Writing by Justyna Pawlak; Editing by Charles Dick)


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