Romania’s new left-leaning government is approved

May 7, 2012, 5:34 PM

Associated Press

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) – Romanian lawmakers on Monday approved a new left-leaning Cabinet that is expected to continue a slate of economic reforms, but partially restore public sector wages and pensions slashed as part of austerity measures.

Parliament approved the government of Victor Ponta by 284-92 votes, making him Romania’s third prime minister this year after previous two centrist governments collapsed over unpopular cuts.

Ponta had told lawmakers that if his coalition government of Social Democrats and Liberals is approved it would only remain in office until November parliamentary elections.

“I am convinced that today we begin to fundamentally change the fate of Romania,” said Ponta, who has vowed to reduce the number of political appointments in state institutions and end endemic cronyism.

Pledging “stability and seriousness,” he said the government would start working on Tuesday.

His government has said there will also be a moratorium on shale gas exploitation and a review of a controversial Canadian gold mine.

Romania took a (EURO)20-billion ($26-billion) bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the World Bank in 2009, when its economy shrank 7 percent.

To keep to the bailout agreement, the government cut public wages by 25 percent, cut pensions and raised sales tax to 24 percent. Thousands of Romanians protested in cities around the country in bitter January weather which led to the collapse of the government of Emil Boc, who was prime minister since 2008.

Less, than three months later, another government fell in a no-confidence vote on April 27.

President Traian Basescu is expected to lead a ceremony to swear in the Cabinet.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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Romania’s new left-leaning government is approved