BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania’s centrist government led by Prime Minister Ludovic Orban lost a no-confidence vote in parliament on Wednesday, a development that raises the prospect of early elections.
Lawmakers voted 261 to 139 in favor of the motion proposed by two opposition parties, the Social Democrats and the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania. To pass, the motion needed to be supported by 233 lawmakers.
For now, the Orban government will continue carrying out its tasks, but in a caretaker role with limited powers. President Klaus Iohannis will begin talks with the political parties to see if he can find a new prime minister who can form a government. If lawmakers reject two candidates proposed by the president, early elections would be called.
The no-confidence vote was triggered by a disputed bill backed by the government which would introduced changes to the election law, including two-round elections in mayoral races and how Romanians living abroad can cast their votes.
Orban’s government also came under criticism for over two dozen emergency decrees it passed on Tuesday on a wide range of issues, from oil and gas concessions to the upcoming census and the use of development funds from the European Union. Caretaker governments cannot resort to such decrees.
The minority Orban government, led by his center-right National Liberal Party, has only been in power since November, when it replaced a Social Democratic government beset by corruption scandals.
National elections are scheduled to be held in late 2020, but the fall of the government may bring forward the vote by several months, possibly to May or June, around the time when nationwide municipal elections are set to be held.
Early elections may favor Orban’s party, which polls show having support from about 45% of voters. The Social Democrats are polling at around 20%.