Romania's appointed government passes Parliament vote

Story highlights

  • The government got the required number of votes despite opposition members not voting
  • "I hope I will not disappoint anyone," prime minister-designate Ungureanu says
  • One opposition leader indicates a willingness to talk
The new Romanian government passed a confidence vote in Parliament on Thursday, with 237 votes for and two against. Opposition members of Parliament refused to vote.
The appointed Cabinet needed at least 232 votes to be approved. The new government was expected to be installed in a ceremony Thursday night.
"I hope I will not disappoint anyone. I will fulfill all the promises I have done to the Romanian citizens. I regret that the opposition didn't vote," said prime minister-designate Mihai Razvan Ungureanu shortly after the result was announced.
The opposition has boycotted parliamentary sessions since February 1, calling for new elections for a totally fresh start in Romania.
Opposition leaders said they don't support the incremental step of a new prime minister appointed by President Traian Basescu, and with it a new government.
However, on Thursday, before the vote, opposition Social Democrat leader Victor Ponta said in a speech in Parliament that the opposition coalition is open to dialog with the new government if Parliament approved the new Cabinet.
Furthermore, Ponta said the opposition is willing to support 15 government projects, mainly European, social and anti-corruption ones.
His statement created controversy among the opposition coalition, and the opposition Liberal Party decided to hold a special ad hoc meeting shortly after Ponta's speech.
Liberal opposition leader Crin Antonescu said after the meeting that his party remains against this new government and trusts his coalition partners to hold their position.
"We didn't discuss those 15 projects with our coalition partners," Antonescu said. "However, I am calling my liberal colleagues and also our coalition partners to keep in mind that we are fighting against Basescu's regime, no matter how many governments he will create, and we are fighting for people who want another way of ruling this country. "
Romania's prime minister-designate announced the lineup of his government Wednesday after two days of talks with the ruling coalition.
"I expect competence, professionalism, responsibility, decency, modesty and openness for dialogue. I call the opposition coalition to support this new government because we are together responsible for this country," Ungureanu said.
He replaced all the Democrat-Liberal Party ministers with other members of the same party, but the other two ruling parties retained control of the same ministries they'd had under the previous administration.
Ungureanu, 43, was Romania's foreign minister from 2004 to 2007, and since then has been the head of the eastern European nation's foreign intelligence service. Ungureanu resigned Wednesday evening from this position.
Former Prime Minister Emil Boc resigned Monday, in the wake of weeks of public protests against austerity measures and pressures from his own party.
The resignation made Romania the sixth European country to see a prime minister fall amid the debt crisis sweeping European Union member states.
The outgoing prime minister said he prepared his resignation some time ago, but he waited for the International Monetary Fund mission to Bucharest to finish its visit before announcing it publicly.
"We made this decision in order to alleviate the social and political situation in the country, (and) to not lose what Romanians have won with so much suffering -- the country's economic stability," said Boc, who had been prime minister since 2008.