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Romanian party quits government, leaving minority

Romania's Conservative Party withdrew from the ruling coalition in a fight with President Traian Basescu and the Democratic Party, leaving the countrywith a minority government as it joins the European Union.

Economy Minister Codrut Seres and Deputy Prime Minister Bogdan Pascu, both Conservatives, said they will resign. The party also includes six deputy ministers and 11 heads of government agencies. “This is all a response to the dictatorial policies of the Democratic Party and President Traian Basescu,” Conservative Party leader Dan Voiculescu said in a news conference televised on Realitatea television today. He said the governing allies in parliament rejected Conservative proposals to lower some taxes. The government of Romania, which will join the EU on January. 1, is now formed by the National Liberal Party of Prime Minister Calin Tariceanu, an ethnic Hungarian minority party and the Democratic Party, which was headed by Basescu until he won elections in November 2004. The governing coalition now has 60 of the 137 Senate seats, down from 71 before the Conservatives left, and 140 of the 330 seats in the lower house, from 159 before. The governing allies in parliament rejected Conservative proposals to lower value added tax next year on basic food items to 9% from 19% and exempt reinvested income from tax, Voiculescu said.

Democratic Party President Emil Boc accused the Conservatives of trying to distract attention from an investigation into the sale of state assets, including some conducted by the Economy Ministry. “The Conservative Party is trying to cover up for the record that the economy minister has as a part of the energy scandal,” Boc said in a televised news briefing. Romanian prosecutors last week put under temporary arrest a manager from Credit Suisse Group, two government officials and a Bulgarian citizen in connection with the sale of state assets, including energy companies. The withdrawal reinforces calls by some politicians, including Basescu, for early elections. In order for Basescu to call early elections, parliament would have to reject a proposed new government three times. The rejection is more likely if the government has a minority in parliament. “I would favor early elections but I don't have the means to trigger them,” Basescu, in a meeting with foreign journalists November 11, said. The Conservatives entered Parliament after 2004 elections as part of a coalition with the former governing Social Democratic Party, which is now in opposition. They later abandoned the Social Democrats to join the Liberals, Democrats and ethnic Hungarians, creating a majority government. After the majority government was formed, Basescu called the Conservative Party “the immoral solution.” (Bloomberg)