Virus Prompts Romanians to Bury Hatchet and Approve New Cabinet

(Bloomberg) -- Romanian lawmakers approved a new government led by Prime Minister Ludovic Orban, putting aside political differences to give him the power to confront the spreading coronavirus outbreak.

The confirmation of Orban’s cabinet in a confidence vote on Saturday ends more than a month of political wrangling that began when opposition forces shot down an identical lineup last month.

The urgency of affirming the new administration was laid bare a day earlier, when Orban and a number of his ministers put themselves in quarantine after interacting with fellow party members who tested positive for COVID-19. While Orban himself and his ministers tested negative for the virus, they remained in isolation.

“Romania needs a stable government with all the legal tools at its disposal to handle the unpredictable coronavirus evolutions,” Orban said in an e-mailed speech. “A plan to combat all the virus-generated economic risks will be endorsed soon.”

Virus Prompts Romanians to Bury Hatchet and Approve New Cabinet

The Black Sea nation now has 99 confirmed cases of coronavirus. While officials have shut schools and suspended flights from Italy, the biggest concern is that more than 1 million Romanians living there may return home for Easter.

In the parliamentary vote, lawmakers cast ballots in small groups and questioned ministerial candidates via phone conference. Orban, an ally of President Klaus Iohannis, said his entire administration will be tested along with fellow party members and workers in parliament after the two members of his party were discovered to have the illness.

While the ruling Liberal Party had been pushing to trigger early elections, it abandoned that plan after an escalation of the outbreak. It now plans to stay in power until regularly scheduled general elections in the fall.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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