Juncker Adviser Picked for Romanian Technocrat Premier Role

  • Move is aimed at quelling anti-establishment demonstrations
  • New premier has 10 days to form government, build support

President Klaus Iohannis nominated Dacian Ciolos to head Romania’s first technocratic government since communism fell in 1989, a move designed to ensure stability until elections next year and contain protests that toppled Prime Minister Victor Ponta last week.

Ciolos, 46, a former European commissioner for agriculture and currently an adviser to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, has 10 days to form a cabinet and outline a governing program that can attract the backing of a majority of lawmakers in parliament. Should he win a confidence vote, his government will have a one-year mandate until general elections scheduled for the end of 2016.

“A year is long but still too short a period to complete all the reforms the country needs," Ciolos said Tuesday in Bucharest. "I’ll focus my energy to open the government to society, to listen and take decisions together. We won’t limit our cabinet, should it get parliament’s approval, to only taking administrative decisions, even if we’re talking about a technocratic government."

Leu Strengthens

Romanians angry at corruption among the nation’s ruling class pushed out Ponta following a deadly nightclub fire in the nation’s capital and have continued the biggest protests since the 1989 anti-communist revolution, demanding more accountability. The unrest in the European Union’s second-poorest state has affected central bank policy and adds uncertainty to next year’s budget.

Investors, who’d sent the leu down 0.6 percent in the past week, pushed the currency stronger after Iohannis’s announcement. It gained 0.3 percent to 4.4460 against the euro at 7:06 p.m. in Bucharest, advancing for the first session in six.

“Most political parties agreed to the idea of a technocratic government and I’m convinced that this is the right path to next year’s elections,” Iohannis said after two rounds of talks with political leaders and protest organizers. “Romania really needs to strengthen the rule of law and political parties must be cleaned up from the inside.”

Full Backing?

The candidacy of Ciolos, who served as agriculture minister under Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu, is at odds with the ruling Social Democrats, who on Monday proposed a deputy central banker and former budget minister, Liviu Voinea, as premier. The party will consider whether or not they support Ciolos and his cabinet once they see the rest of the cabinet and the governing program, leader Liviu Dragnea told reporters in Bucharest Tuesday.

“We had a government that was performing very well and we want to see our projects continued,” he said. “We’ll have an open dialogue with Mr. Ciolos and we’ll decide afterwards.”

The opposition Liberal Party and a former junior member of Ponta’s ruling coalition said they’ll support Iohannis’ choice. While smaller parties also pledged backing, they said they’re waiting to see the governing program before making a final decision.

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