Romanian President Hesitates in Naming PM

President Traian Basescu is making no comment about whether he will reappoint Victor Ponta as Romania’s next prime minister, even though Ponta’s coalition won the recent general election with a large majority.President Traian Basescu on Wednesday asked politicians and the media not to make any inappropriate comments about his alleged involvement in behind-scenes discussions on the nomination of a future Prime Minister.

“Any unofficial information should be double-checked to eliminate any possibility of disinformation,” a press release from the presidency said.

Speculation has run rampant following the December 9 general elections, which were won by a landslide by Victor Ponta’s Social Liberal Union, USL.

Under the constitution, the party that wins more than 50 per cent of the seats in parliament is entitled to negotiate the nomination of a Prime Minister with the President.

The USL asked Basescu on Wednesday to acknowledge its victory and re-appoint Ponta in order to stop the country from plunging back into political turmoil.

But the President is calling on lawmakers to stop trying to pressure him, announcing that he will hold talks with parties over the next few days before making a nomination.

Ponta’s leftist USL won two-thirds of the seats in Sunday’s vote but is locked in a power struggle with Basescu, who previously said he would never again appoint the 40-year-old lawyer.

Analysts say any impasse in forming the next government could lead Romania into a deeper political and economic crisis.

“It would be better if Basescu announced the next PM as soon as possible. He has to respect the constitution and the will of the people… or Romania will face instability,” political analyst Emil Hurezeanu said.

Delays in forming a new government put at risks talks on a new International Monetary Fund bailout once a 5 billion euro loan deal with the IMF expires early next year.

Under Romanian law, Ponta’s current government remains in power until a new cabinet is approved by parliament.

The premier-designate has 10 days to draw up a governing programme and pick his ministers before seeking a confidence vote in parliament.

Two failed attempts to form a government within 60 days of the first nomination automatically trigger early polls.

Romania has been ruled by three governments this year alone. A long dispute between Ponta and Basescu resulted in a referendum on the impeachment of the President on July 29. Most Romanians voted for impeachment but Basescu remained in his post because the turnout was low, at only 46 per cent.

For an impeachment vote to be validated by the Constitutional Court, a turnout of at least 50 per was required.

Ponta’s battles with the President have caused concern in Brussels about Romania’s continued commitment to the rule of law. He has since promised to address those worries.

Basescu’s second and final term as head of state, according to the constitution, expires in late 2014.

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