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Emil Boc named new PM in coalition government

Latest update : 2008-12-15

Emil Boc was named Romania's new prime minister on Monday, hours after fellow Liberal Democrat Theodor Stolojan turned down the job. Boc’s right-wing party has agreed to form a coalition government with the Social Democrats.

AFP - The head of Romania's right-wing Liberal Democrats, Emil Boc, was named the country's new prime minister on Monday only hours after his party's deputy leader surprisingly turned down the job.

In a move that should draw a line under more than a fortnight of political uncertainty after parliamentary elections on November 30, President Traian Basescu said he would now formally nominate Boc as premier.

Boc's party, which used to be led by Basescu, won the most seats in parliament but fell well short of an outright majority and will now go into a coalition with left-wing rivals the Social Democrats.

He will take over as premier from Calin Tariceanu, whose centrist Liberal Party trailed in third place.

The Liberal Democrats' deputy leader, 65-year-old former premier Theodor Stolojan, had earlier surprisingly rejected a request by Basescu to head up the coalition in the former hard-line communist country, saying a younger man should be in charge.

"With this gesture, I want to give hope to a new younger generation of politicians, who can rise to the highest positions in the state," he said.

"I've taken note of Mr. Stolojan's decision to surrender his mandate and will now sign the decree for the nomination of Emil Boc as prime minister," the president responded in a statement.

The 42-year-old Boc, a lawyer by training, took over as leader of his party in succession to Basescu in 2004 -- the same year that he was elected mayor of the city of Cluj for a second term.

Under his leadership, the Liberal Democrats won 166 seats in parliament in November's elections, narrowly ahead of the Social Democrats with 163 seats.

Tariceanu's Liberals meanwhile gained 93 seats, with the Democratic Union for Hungarians in Romania (UDMR) taking 31 seats and the remaining 18 seats being distributed among parties representing other ethnic minorities.

Under Tariceanu, Romania achieved its long-term goal of joining the European Union and enjoyed a period of steady growth.

But Boc's left-right coalition will inherit an economy that some analysts have predicted could go into recession in the coming year.

Alarm bells have been ringing ever louder in recent weeks, with automaker Dacia, part of the Renault group, announcing in early November that it would briefly halt production due to falling sales.

Steel giant Arcelor Mittal also announced a two-month production stoppage at its factory in southeastern Romania, due to a drop in orders.

A coalition between the Liberal Democrats and Social Democrats, bitter rivals for the last decade, would have been unimaginable only weeks ago.

However both parties have cited the global economic downturn to justify their sudden willingness to work together and overlook past differences.

The two parties did govern together in the 1990s, when they made up the National Salvation Front (FSN), which took power following the anti-communist uprising of December 1989 but split in the spring of 1992.

Under the terms of Romania's constitution, drawn up after the downfall and subsequent execution of the late Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in 1989, the task of selecting a prime minister is the prerogative of the president.

Basescu himself will seek re-election next year. Under the terms of the coalition agreement, both parties will field separate candidates.

Date created : 2008-12-15