BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania’s left-wing government easily survived a no-confidence vote Wednesday that was submitted by the opposition in Parliament, which claimed it has weakened democracy and the rule of law.
The motion initiated by the Liberal Party secured 166 votes, far short of the 233 it needed to dismiss the government of Prime Minister Viorica Dancila. She was appointed in January, becoming the third premier since the ruling Social Democratic Party came to power through the December 2016 parliamentary election.
The powerful leader of the Social Democrats, Liviu Dragnea, received a 3 ½ year sentence last week for abuse of power in office. His party has rallied around him, pending a final verdict. Dragnea can’t be prime minister due to a 2016 vote-rigging conviction.
Thousands of Romanians gathered in a park near Parliament ahead of Wednesday’s vote, yelling “Resign!” and waving Romanian flags while riot police stood guard. Some companies gave employees the day off to protest.
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Dancila defended the government’s performance, saying it had raised salaries and pensions while insisting that opposition lawmakers created “a list of falsehoods made in bad faith.”
Opposition lawmakers booed the prime minister as she spoke and unfurled a giant banner reading, “We will fight to the end for Romania.” Social Democratic lawmakers did not vote.
Romanians have staged daily protests as the governments moves to implement new laws that critics say will weaken the nation’s fight against corruption.
Dan Barna, leader of the opposition Union to Save Romania, said the Social Democrats were guilty of “changing laws to make sure Dragnea doesn’t go to prison.”