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Another one bites the dust

Source: www.economist.com

Apr 27th, 2012 (Adapted)

Less than three months after it took office, Romania's government has fallen. The centre-right administration lost a no-confidence vote filed by the left-wing opposition. When the motion was originally filed few thought the government was in danger. But in recent weeks it has been weakened by a series of defections.

"Today there was justice," celebrated Victor Ponta, leader of the centre-left Social-Liberal Union (USL), after securing 235 votes in favour of his motion, four more than he needed. "We don't want any more dubious firms, no more selling under the market price and huge bribes," he said in a five-hour long debate that preceded the vote.

Traian Basescu, the president and main political player in Romania, proposed Mr Ponta as prime minister back in February when the previous government, led by Emil Boc, resigned after three weeks of street protests denouncing party cronyism, incompetence and harsh austerity measures. Mr Ponta refused, but now he seems more willing to step in thanks to the fair-weather politicians who have flocked to his party from the centre-right.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), which began an official visit to Romania earlier this week to review the country's performance linked to a 5 billion euro credit line it was granted last year, announced it would suspend its mission until a new government is in place. That may not take long. But with Romanian governments showing the longevity of mayflies, and the European Union (EU) weary of a country that seems unable or unwilling to make serious progress on the corruption problems that continue to plague it five years after it was accepted into the club, it will take a good deal longer for Romania to acquire the clout that should come naturally to an EU country with 22m people.

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