Romanian lawmakers approve Ludovic Orban's new government

BUCHAREST – Romanian lawmakers on Saturday voted overwhelmingly to approve Prime Minister Ludovic Orban's new government, the same one ousted last month as the result of losing a no-confidence vote.

Orban's nomination by President Klaus Iohannis came amid Romania's efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus, which has already infected 109 people in the country.

After Orban was sworn in, Iohannis said a state of emergency would be introduced in Romania from Monday. The measure would allow authorities, among advantages, to streamline the decision-making process and simplify the purchase of medical supplies.

The measure "will also make possible the allocation of important new resources for managing the crisis,” Iohannis said.

The minority government of Orban's National Liberal Party was backed by 286 deputies and senators, well above the minimum of 233 votes needed for approval. Twenty-three lawmakers voted against.

The leader of the main opposition party, the Social Democrats, said they had supported the Orban government only so Romanians could have a “functioning state" in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.

The National Liberal Party and Iohannis “don't deserve this vote, but Romanians deserve a functioning state which can react quickly to the epidemic,” said Marcel Ciolacu, president of Parliament's Chamber of Deputies and head of the Social Democrats.

Orban and his Cabinet of ministers, who remained in a caretaker role after losing a no-confidence vote on Feb. 5, have been in isolation since Friday after a government party lawmaker they frequently met with was confirmed to be infected with the new virus.

Because of the risk of spreading the virus, ministerial nominees took questions from the corresponding parliamentary committees by video conference, there was no parliamentary debate before the vote and Orban sent his remarks to lawmakers in writing.

Before his ouster last month due to disputed changes he sought to the election law, Orban had been in power since November, when his government replaced a Social Democratic government beset by corruption scandals.