Emil Boc said he took the decision in order "to defuse the social tension" and to protect the economic stability of the country, according to Romanian media. Boc, who is the leader of the Democratic Liberal Party (PDL) of President Traian Basescu, has been prime minister since 2008.
"We took difficult decisions thinking about the future of Romania […] I appeal on the maturity of the political class to pass quickly a new cabinet through Parliament," he said. Although according to polls PDL has the support of only 18% of the population, this party has majority in Parliament.
However, the opposition made it clear that passing a cabinet through Parliament was not an option.
Crin Antonescu, leader of the opposition National Liberal Party (PNL), called for early elections, as well as for the resignation of President Basescu.
"Boc's resignation means that the united opposition USL was right when it initiated various non-confidence votes […] There are two more steps that need to be taken: the resignation of President Basescu and early elections," Antonescu said. Basescu's term as President expires in 2014.
The Social-Liberal Union (USL) is an alliance between three opposition parties, the Social Democratic Party (PSD) of Victor Ponta, and the centre-right alliance made up of the National Liberal Party (PNL) of Crin Antonescu and the Conservative Party of Daniel Constantin.
According to polls, USL has the support of over 50% of the Romanians. USL leaders have agreed that in the case of early elections, Romania's next Prime Minister would be Victor Ponta, while Crin Antonescu would be the coalition's candidate.
Recently, the three USL leaders addressed a hearing, organized by the Socialists and Democrats and the liberal ALDE groups in the European Parliament and stated that democracy in Romania had been "suspended" under PDL rule.
The Social Democratic leader Victor Ponta pointed out the real problem for the country was in fact President Basescu.
"It should not be forgotten that the Boc government hasn't taken many decisions, really. Decisions were taken by President Basescu," he stated.
In the meantime, Basescu appointed Justice Minister Cătălin Predoiu, 44, as interim Prime Minister until a new cabinet is passed in Parliament. Predoiu has no political affiliation.
Recently Predoiu told the Brussels press that his country had made unprecedented efforts to reform its law enforcement system, suggesting that Bucharest wanted to see the EU monitoring mechanism put in place five years ago removed by the summer. The next progress report on Romania under the so-called Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), is expected to be published by the Commission anytime now.
Late in the evening on Monday President Basescu nominated Mihai Răzvan Ungureanu, head of the foreign intelligence service, as Prime Minister in charge of forming a government. Ungureanu, 42, has served as Foreign Minister from the liberal PNL party. However, in his more recent attributions he is seen as politically independent.
However, PSD leader Victor Ponta blasted the nomination, stating that such a cabinet would be "another attempt of Basescu's PDL to cling to power". He added that the opposition coalition would vote against the new cabinet, and that the country was heading for early elections.
PNL Leader Crin Antonescu said Ungureanu's would be a "puppet cabinet" and also pledged to vote against it. He also said that Ungureanu had "no relation" with PNL, "for many years now".
A vote of the new government, yet to be formed, is expected in Parliament on 9 February.