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02/12/2016

Romanian PM praises work of ‘zero government’

Elections

Romanian PM praises work of ‘zero government’

Dacian Cioloș has turned the "zero government" criticism back on his detractors.

[Gabriel Petrescu/ Shutterstock]

Romanian Prime Minister Dacian Cioloş has marked the completion of his first year in office by labelling his technocratic cabinet a “zero government”: “zero corruption, zero populism and zero lies”, in a barb aimed directly at his critics. EurActiv Romania reports.

Cioloş, a former Agriculture Commissioner in the Barroso Commission, was brought in as prime minister in November 2015, after the resignation of his predecessor, Victor Ponta, amid allegations of corruption and failing health. Not one of Cioloş’ ministers is politically affiliated and the prime minister himself said that their appointments were not intended to replace the political class.

Now, after a year of technocracy, the Romanian prime minister has praised his government for its zero-tolerance approach to corruption, populism and lying in its own ranks, as well as encouraging his ministers to present their own appraisals to the public on what they have achieved and what is still yet to be accomplished.

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“It is one year since I took over this mandate and I would like, without ceremony, to take this opportunity to explain and assess this year of “zero government”. We must say that we are a government of zero corruption, zero populism and zero lies,” said Cioloş at a government meeting this week. His cabinet was given the parliament’s vote of confidence on 17 November 2015.

“As I said at the start of the mandate, we do not intend to revolutionise Romania in one year, as I said then, we would make several reforms in several crucial areas,” he continued.

In regard to his own ministers, Cioloş urged his colleagues to “list your achievements, what you planned to do, what you failed to accomplish, what has been started and what is in progress.”

The prime minister added that “I think that it is important to do this self-analysis and make the public aware, especially those interested in what is actually happening, beyond the populism. We can discuss what has been done and what still needs to be addressed.”

The expression “zero government” was first used by the Social Democratic Party (PSD), negatively, to refer to the technocratic government and its absorption of EU funds.

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Cioloş, who is yet to form a political alliance of his own ahead of elections in December, is forging somewhat of a reputation as a man of the people. Earlier this month, while travelling on a domestic flight with Irish airline Ryanair, the prime minister was dismayed to learn that he was not allowed to pay in local currency on board.

He was incredulous that Romanian lei were not an acceptable form of payment and called on the airline to clarify that it was not breaking any laws. Ryanair later released a statement saying that because they are registered in Ireland, it is not obligated to accept local currency once in the air.