Lack of political support dooms Romania's government


With no real backing from the parties behind the former coalition government, Mihai Razvan Ungureanu's cabinet was easy prey for the opposition.

By Paul Ciocoiu for Southeast European Times in Bucharest -- 30/04/12


Mihai Razvan Ungureanu, centre, was not a political choice for prime minister when he was selected two months ago, and the lack of support helped topple his government on Friday (April 27th), according to analysts. [Reuters]

A wave of party defections and fallout between the previously deposed cabinet and the former main ruling party doomed the government of former Romania Prime Minister Mihai Razvan Ungureanu only two months after it assumed power, according to an analyst.

Ungureanu's government toppled on Friday (April 27th) in a no-confidence vote by parliament. President Traian Basescu appointed Victor Ponta, head of the Social Democrat Party (PSD), the country's largest opposition party, to form a new government.

"The former government was not a political one, therefore it did not have a determined support behind it," Alexandru Cumpanasu, director of the Association for the Implementation of Democracy, told SETimes. "Consequently, it soon ran into a conflict with the parties that upheld it. A government resists as long as it has political ministers, not technocrats."

Ungureanu was head of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE) in 2007-2012, before being appointed prime minister in February, when Prime Minister Emil Boc resigned in the wake of political and social tensions from weeks of unrest and anti-austerity demonstrations in dozens of cities.

Ungureanu was an independent politician, not affiliated with the former ruling Democrat Liberal Party (PDL). His appointment was seen as a measure to polish the former ruling party's damaged public image.

"His government did not enjoy a large parliamentary support and did not have ministers eager to respond to the party's commands. That was plain to see in the fact that the no-confidence vote was supported by some democrat-liberals lawmakers," Cumpanasu said.

"Last, but not the least, Ungureanu's government did not find a way of communication between the resources, namely the government, and the party branches that expected easy access to these resources."

It is the plummeted popularity of the previous government that Ungureanu was called to erase that led to his cabinet's demise, other analysts think.

"What happened last Friday was in fact a protest vote of the opposition aimed at Emil Boc and President Traian Basescu," Septimius Pirvu, vice president of the Pro-Democracy Association, told SETimes. "Hence the maximum intensity of the vote and the drama the opposition staged during the voting session."

No less than ten confidence votes had been submitted against Boc's government, none of which succeeded.

But Ungureanu's fall was hastened by a wave of defections in PDL that picked up after his appointment to the helm of the government. By Friday, 17 deputies and seven senators had left PDL, joining the opposition coalition Social-Liberal Union (USL), now entrusted with the formation of the new executive.

"Amid the dramatic decrease of popularity of the democrat-liberals, some of the party’s lawmakers started fearing for their parliamentary seats. Their decision to defect was in fact based on a political self-preservation desire," Cumpanasu said.

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It is the very fight for financial resources and state contracts that could break down USL, he warned. "There is no coalition government in post-communist Romania not to have reached a state of conflict due to this."

For the public, the reasons behind Ungureanu government’s fall are unequivocal.

"We have a long history of political treason. That’s exactly what happened here. He was forsaken by those who felt their seats were no longer safe with the former ruling party and negotiated one more term with the opposition," Daniel Padurete, an economist in Bucharest, told SETimes.

"The elections fever is overwhelming the parties. And that is just the first effect. Then comes populism with all its deserted promises. Maybe this is for Ungureanu's best, being taken off the stage at the very moment when politics show its dirtiest moves," he added.

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