The parliamentary coalition which has so far backed the 'technocrat' government of Razvan Ungureanu, withdrew its support, a move which upset the markets and threw the EU's second poorest country into political turmoil.
The Parliament voted through a no confidence motion with 235 votes, four more than was required to topple the government. The slender majority means that forming a new Romanian government will not be straightforward.
Members of the ruling liberal-democrat party together with the opposition met with Romanian president Traian Băsescu in the afternoon to negotiate the forming of a new government, Romanian media reported.
The social-liberal coalition, the so-called “social liberal union” (USL) hailed itself as “the only one capable of holding power” in the current political environment. Liberal leader Crin Antonescu (PNL) said he had informed president Băsescu of their position and was waiting for a response shortly.
Ten days to find a majority
President Băsescu will now have to appoint a Prime Minister. He has ten days to form a new government and seek a confidence vote. The USL coalition has put forward social-democrat leader Victor Ponta (PSD), who refused to comment until he is offered a mandate.
Former Prime Minister Emil Boc, who was in office until 6 February 2012, made a statement asking for the new parliamentary majority to assume responsibility and form a government “immediately”. He called on the deputies “to put the stability of the country before the political careers of different politicians”, as his own liberal-democrat party (PDL) had in the past.
“Every passing second and day of instability will translate into money flying from Romanian citizens' pockets,” Boc warned. The Romanian currency, the leu, fell to 4.4010 against the euro, having traded 0.4% lower on the day.
Romanian television reported that the USL has only 223 supporters in parliament, short of the 231 it needs to form a government. Social-democrat leader Victor Ponta may currently be negotiating with leaders of political parties in order to complete the arithmatic needed to replace the government, Romanian political analysts said.
The government's collapse came as a mission from the International Monetary Fund was in Bucharest to discuss a re-engagement with Romania. The IMF mission stopped its negotiations and delayed the disbursement of its next tranche of funds to Bucharest.