19:18 GMT +319 January 2020
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    The centre-left government of Prime Minister Viorica Dancila faced a no-confidence vote Thursday, a year before planned parliamentary elections, and one month before the November 10 presidential vote.

    238 lawmakers in Romania's 329 seat parliament signed a motion calling for the sacking of the government, with the motion successfully passing the 233 votes needed to oust the cabinet of Prime Minister Dancila. 

    The motion, entitled 'In order to rebuild Romania, the Dancila government must be urgently dismissed', passed despite the prime minister's earlier suggestion that that the opposition was not really interested in early elections.

    Ahead of the vote, Dancila said she believed her opponents had no clear plan for governing the country, and said that her tenure "hasn't been perfect," but "worked for the benefit of Romanians."

    Dancila's Social Democratic Party lost its coalition-based parliamentary majority this summer, after the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats, a centrist party with 14 seats in parliament, withdrew from the governing coalition over multiple disagreements, including the unity candidate in November's presidential vote.

    Ludovic Orban, leader of the opposition Liberal Party, which initiated the no confidence vote, praised Thursday's decision, boasting that "We have stopped the Social Democrat Party from hurting Romania." The Liberal Party and other opposition forces have charged Dancila with incompetence and the misuse of EU aid funding.

    A transitional caretaker government is now expected to take power until the 2020 parliamentary vote, unless the opposition finds a way to cobble together a new government.

    The Dancila government is the third in as many years, and was formed following the resignation of Prime Minister Mihai Tudose in early 2018. Before him, a coalition government under Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu lost a confidence vote in mid-2017 and resigned amid mass protests.

    Romania has been rocked by a series of mass demonstrations in recent years centred around amendments to the penal code to reduce the force of anti-corruption laws.

    After its initial formation following elections 2016, Social Democratic Party-led coalition government undertook an overhaul of the country's judicial system, with multiple EU institutions, including the Council of Europe and the European Commission, voicing concerns about the reforms, suggesting they could reduce the independence of Romania's judiciary and make it easier for corrupt politicians to escape justice.

    The Dancila government responded to these concerns earlier this year by criticising the leaders of some EU member states for meddling in Romanian affairs and accusing the bloc itself of "double standards."

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