Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Romania's Government Faces No-Confidence Vote

Associated Press

BUCHAREST—Romania's Parliament began debating a motion of no-confidence against the country's government on Wednesday as about 30,000 people gathered to protest wage cuts and austerity measures.

The opposition Social Democrats and Liberals said they filed the motion to oppose the centrist government's harsh measures during the economic crisis. They will need 236 votes to topple the government. The opposition parties have 212 votes but hope some lawmakers from the governing coalition will switch sides in the secret ballot. Victor Ponta, the leader of the Social Democrats, claimed on Tuesday they needed to persuade only four more lawmakers to oust the government.

About 30,000 protesters were marching through Bucharest toward the Parliament building, blocking traffic and shouting: "Down with the government."

The vote will take place as an International Monetary Fund mission is visiting Romania to review the country's ailing economy. Romania took a €20 billion ($27.7 billion) loan from the IMF, the European Union and the World Bank last year when its economy shrank by 7.1%.

In return, Romania pledged to cut spending and the government took harsh measures, slashing public sector wages by one-fourth and increasing sales tax from 19% to 24%.

Prime Minister Emil Boc said before Tuesday's debate that he understands people's discontent, but he said they "must understand that the government did what it had to limit the effects of the crisis and to pull the country out of recession."

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