Romania's president asks centrist party head Ciolos to form govt

Dacian Ciolos, leader of the USR party, attends a news conference at the headquarters of the USR PLUS alliance, in Bucharest, Romania, September 23, 2021. Inquam Photos/George Calin via REUTERS

BUCHAREST, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Romanian President Klaus Iohannis has proposed Dacian Ciolos, leader of a centrist party, as a candidate to form a government, after the nine-month-old liberal-led coalition cabinet of Florin Citu was toppled in a vote of no confidence last week.

Ciolos, an ex-prime minister who headed a technocrat cabinet in 2015-2017 said on his Facebook page: "We're ready to take responsibility for the government and start negotiations with all political parties for backing."

Romania, one of the European Union's poorest member states, has been in political paralysis for a month, threatening its economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and efforts to reduce large twin deficits at a time of rising energy prices.

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"(Ciolos's) USR party was the sole party who has made a proposal to me," president Iohannis told reporters on Monday after holding consultations with all the parliamentary parties.

Under the constitution, Ciolos, whose USR controls only 17% of parliament's seats, will have 10 days to form a government and ask parliament for a vote of confidence.

Finding enough support will be tough as opposition groupings have so far said they will not back a minority cabinet nor enter an alliance with USR, a relatively new party that was a junior partner in Citu's coalition.

USR's withdrawal of its ministers in a row over a regional development fund cost Citu's government its majority and caused it to collapse last week.

Analysts have said an early election is unlikely as parliament would need to reject two consecutive proposals for premier by Iohannis within 60 days and the fragmented opposition is reluctant to take over, given health and economic challenges.

In his Facebook post, Ciolos listed fighting a rise in COVID-19 infections and reining in energy prices as his top priorities.

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Reporting by Radu Marinas; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Catherine Evans

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