Romania’s PM Orban confident populists will win elections

Romania’s PM Ludovic Orban is convinced the Covid-19 pandemic, which has triggered the worst economic slump on record, won’t stop him forming a solid majority after elections next month, Bloomberg reported. Speaking in an interview in his Bucharest office, Orban said he’s confident of keeping populist parties at bay in the vote on 6 December.

Even so, the crisis has taken a bite out of his Liberal Party’s backing: Polls put it in front but only with about 30% support, meaning he’ll almost certainly need coalition partners to form a stable government. “I have faith in citizens’ good judgment,” Orban said on Thursday. “I think they’ll realize that we took on the governing of the country in a very difficult period. We had to fight not only the pandemic but also a hostile parliament, and we managed to keep Romania afloat.”

Orban has led a minority administration in the European Union member for about a year. That’s often proved problematic as the rival Social Democrats, who ran the country earlier, maintained control of parliament. In one instance, they passed legislation increasing pensions that threatens the Balkan country’s investment-grade credit rating. They spent freely while in power too, leaving Orban with the EU’s widest budget shortfall when he took over.

Orban said he’ll negotiate about a new ruling alliance with all the parties except the Social Democrats, who “did enough damage to Romania while in office.”

He plans to gradually reduce the deficit from 9.1% of gross domestic product this year to about 3% by 2024 and use the € 80bn Romania is set to receive in EU financing to invest in new highways, fuel innovation and upgrade crumbling hospitals.

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