Romanian PM survives no-confidence vote amid corruption claims

Prime Minister Victor PontaRomania’s parliament on Friday rejected a motion of no-confidence in the government of Prime Minister Victor Ponta who has been embroiled in a corruption inquiry.

The motion — the third of its kind against the government since Ponta took office in 2012 — fell far short of the 278 votes needed for it pass.

Only 194 lawmakers in the 554-member assembly, where Ponta’s centre-left coalition has a large majority, voted in favour.

Coming three days after the parliament voted against stripping Ponta of his immunity the outcome of the vote came as little surprise.

“We’re going to get to work because the country needs to be governed,” the 42-year-old Social Democratic premier said afterwards.

On Tuesday, lawmakers rejected a request from the DNA anti-corruption agency to lift Ponta’s immunity to allow prosecutors investigate him for conflict of interest.

The agency said it would however continue investigating him on suspicion of money laundering and tax evasion between 2007 and 2011, before he became prime minister.

Ponta was a lawmaker and lawyer at the time. He has dismissed the allegations and rejected a call from President Klaus Iohannis, a conservative who beat him for the top job in November elections, to resign.

Friday’s no-confidence motion, which was tabled by the opposition National Liberal Party (PNL), was not directly linked to the graft allegations.

The text accused the government of “incompetence” in several areas and of delaying a law on postal votes for Romanians abroad, who traditionally do not support Ponta’s social-democratic left.

PNL co-president Alina Gorghiu said the party would keep up pressure on the government and return with another no-confidence motion in the autumn, “with the certainty that it will succeed”.

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