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Romania Chooses Left-Leaning Government

BUCHAREST, Romania — The Romanian Parliament approved a new left-leaning coalition government on Wednesday, ending weeks of uncertainty about who would lead a country that has been a staunch member of the European Union and NATO.

Sorin Grindeanu, 43, a former communications minister and a compromise candidate, was named prime minister. He beat his Social Democratic Party’s first choice, Sevil Shhaideh, a member of the country’s Tatar minority who would have become Romania’s first female and first Muslim prime minister.

The Social Democrats came to power in a national election on Dec. 11 on the promise of increasing government spending for health care, salaries and pensions. On Wednesday, Mr. Grindeanu said his government would raise the minimum wage and improve access to free prescription drugs. He also promised to create better-paying jobs so that Romanians would not seek work abroad.

President Klaus Iohannis, swore in the new cabinet, urging its members to strengthen the judiciary and support “the Euro-Atlantic orientation of Romania.”

The selection of a prime minister was thrown into confusion last week when Ms. Shhaideh was rejected for the post by Mr. Iohannis, apparently because of her Syrian-born husband’s support for the leadership of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. Ms. Shhaideh was instead named deputy prime minister and minister of regional development.

The natural pick for the job, the party’s leader, Liviu Dragnea, was barred from becoming prime minister after a 2015 conviction for electoral fraud. Though he will not hold any official role in the new cabinet, analysts expect that he will wield considerable influence.

“The real prime minister is Liviu Dragnea,” said Cristian Pirvulescu, a dean at the National School of Political Studies and Public Administration in Bucharest.

Source: NYT > World

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