Romanian PM name yet to emerge, further talks expected next week

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 06, 2015 9:39 AM

By Radu-Sorin Marinas and Luiza Ilie

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Consultations over a new Romanian prime minister will resume next week after initial talks with political and civil society leaders yielded no candidate, President Klaus Iohannis said on Friday.

Former prime minister Victor Ponta, who faces a corruption trial, unexpectedly quit on Wednesday after tens of thousands of protesters demanded resignations and a cleansing of the political class over a deadly fire in a Bucharest nightclub.

On Friday evening, thousands of people protested for a fourth straight day in the capital’s iconic University Square and other cities across the Balkan country, carrying banners saying, "Corruption Kills". In Bucharest, they chanted "wake up Romania" and "we won’t leave."

Iohannis met senior political and civil figures on Wednesday and Thursday to consider possible successors to Ponta.

"During this round of consultations, I saw that there is a need for complex change in Romanian politics. A single round of talks is not enough," Iohannis told reporters.

"I will call a new round of talks for early next week. It is possible that by the end of next week we will reach a conclusion to present to the people."

All groups in the three-party ruling coalition and the centrist opposition that met Iohannis stopped short of suggesting a candidate but expressed readiness for a consensus solution. The centrist opposition wants an early election.

Liviu Dragnea, leader of the ruling Social Democrats (PSD), the country's biggest party, said several options had been discussed including a technocratic cabinet of experts, a broad-backed national unity government or even a snap election.

Early polls, a first for Romania, would need either volunteer resignations by all deputies or two consecutive votes of no-confidence against two prime minister nominees within 60 days of the first nomination, a difficult requirement to meet.

Regular parliament elections are scheduled for December 2016.

Most commentators expect Ponta's resignation to produce a new cabinet, probably led by a technocrat, in the coming weeks.

Parallel to countrywide protests, hundreds of people marched in silence in Bucharest towards the Colektiv nightclub, where 32 people died and nearly 200 were injured on Oct. 30 after fireworks used indoors at a concert set non-fireproofed insulation foam ablaze, triggering a stampede.

Anti-corruption prosecutors said they have opened a criminal investigation against the mayor of the city district where the club was located. He resigned in the wake of the protests.

(Editing by Mark Heinrich)