New Romania government led by Social Democrat Victor Ponta passes Parliament vote
Ponta's ministers received the support of specialised commissions in the Parliament earlier today. During the hearings, Foreign minister-designate Andrei Marga stressed the importance of stronger relations with Russia, China and other countries which he said "are stagnating" and repeatedly said that Russian leader Vladimir Putin was "competent". Marga said he saw five problems in Romania's foreign affairs: an insufficient use of the partnership with the US, a stagnating relationship with Russia and China, very few economic effects of Romania's foreign actions, the lack of a long-term vision and the issue of diplomatic personnel.
For his part, the Economy minister-designate, Daniel Chitoiu, said during hearings today that disputed contracts concluded by energy companies such as Hidroelectrica would be renegotiated shortly and that one of his priorities would be a rethinking of the taxation system.
Victor Ponta said before MPs that he was the first prime minister of Romania who turned 18 after the 1989 revolution and that he eyed "a more flexible, less bureaucratic government structure" after the general elections later this year.
His government hoped for 276 votes in the Parliament, but received eight more. His government was supported by MPs of the USL, of the ethic minorities group and of the National Union for the Progress of Romania (UNPR, which previously supported the Democratic Liberal-dominated governments).
Ponta said before the vote on Monday that he held talks with the IMF, World Bank and European Commission delegation to Bucharest and announced that state employees would see their salaries rise by 8% starting June 1, a rise to be followed by another 7 percent in autumn, in line with the performance of the economy. He said that Finance minister-designate Florin Georgescu negotiated a deficit target of 2.25% of the GDP for 2012, that is 0.35 percentage points more than previously agreed.