Romania’s president asks finance minister Citu to form government

By Radu-Sorin Marinas

BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Romania’s centrist President Klaus Iohannis appointed interim Finance Minister Florin Citu as prime minister-designate to try to form a transitional government until a parliamentary election in November, seeking end to political deadlock.

Lawmakers toppled Prime Minister Ludovic Orban’s three-month-old minority government this month in a confidence vote spearheaded by the opposition Social Democrats, the country’s largest parliamentary group.

The Romanian leu hit fresh record lows this week, partly driven by political uncertainty in one of European Union’s poorest members, and the country’s longer-term government bonds fell sharply on Tuesday.

“I want to quickly unlock this deadlock, my nominee for prime minister is the finance minister,” Iohannis told reporters after consultations with political groupings.

“I do hope he’ll soon put together a cabinet line-up and governing program and present it to legislators.”

Orban’s ousted cabinet is running the country on an interim basis, with limited powers, as widening budget and current account deficits put pressure on assets and rating outlooks.

U.S.-educated Citu, who has worked for the European Investment Bank and New Zealand’s central bank, must put together a cabinet within 10 days, and will then need to gain parliament’s vote of confidence.

Citu’s Liberal party has doubled its approval ratings to about 47% since a 2016 election, while support for the Social Democrats has halved to about 20% over the same period.

(Editing by Chris Reese and Alison Williams)