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Romania president wants liberals to form government

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Bucharest (AFP)

Romania's president on Friday was preparing to nominate a prime minister from the centre-right party to lead the poor, corruption-plagued EU member after parliament toppled the beleaguered left-wing government.

Lawmakers on Thursday voted narrowly in favour of a no-confidence motion against the government of Viorica Dancila's Social Democratic Party (PSD), clearing the way for President Klaus Iohannis to name a new prime minister.

"It's pretty clear that we are heading towards a PNL government or one formed around PNL," Iohannis said referring to the National Liberal Party, which he himself used to lead.

Iohannis issued a press statement after holding talks with almost all parliamentary groups, except the PSD, which rejected his invitation for consultations.

The PSD has had a rocky ride since taking power in late 2016, facing massive street protests and criticsm from Brussels over controversial judicial reforms.

The situation for the country's biggest party worsened in May when voters dealt it a massive set-back in European elections and its then leader, Liviu Dragnea, was jailed on corruption charges.

In August, PSD lost its parliamentary majority when its junior partner quit the coalition.

But political instability may yet continue.

Undermined by internal dissent, the PSD's rivals has so far failed to agree on an alternative candidate to Dancila.

Iohannis said he will name a new prime minister early next week, after a fresh round of talks.

The nominee will then have ten days to form a cabinet and ask for a confidence vote from parliament.

PNL, which is the second biggest party and spearheaded the no-confidence vote, has designated its chief, Ludovic Orban, 56, for the job of prime minister.

Iohannis has said he would also agree to snap elections, but stressed that the Romanian constitution makes this scenario highly unlikely.

The next parliamentary elections are scheduled for late 2020.

Romania hasn't held snap elections in the last three decades, since the fall of communism.

Whoever leads it, the new government will face several challenges.

One of them is writing next year's budget, complicated by an explosion of public spending in recent months as the PSD struggled to stay in power.

Dancila, who heads the PSD, said she won't resign from her role despite her bitter defeat in parliament.

The 55-year-old is due to run in presidential elections with Iohannis' re-election looking likely. The first round is scheduled for November 10.

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