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Friday, 29 December, 2000, 00:09 GMT
New government takes power in Romania
Adrian Nastase
Nastase has promised to increase growth and tame inflation
Romania's new leftist Prime Minister, Adrian Nastase, has won a vote of confidence in parliament with the backing of the parties he ousted in November's elections.

Centrist and right-wing parties supported Mr Nastase's Party of Social Democracy (PDSR), which will form a minority government.

Key ministers
Prime Minister: Adrian Nastase
Interior Minister: Ioan Rus
Foreign Minister: Mircea Geoana
Defence Minister: Ioan Mircea Pascu
Chief EU negotiator: Vasile Puscas
The head of the National Liberal Party (PNL), Valeriu Stoica, said their support was to "discourage" the PDSR from any thoughts of an alliance with the far-right Greater Romania Party (PRM).

The PRM is the second largest party in the new parliament, and its leader, Corneliu Vadim Tudor, made an strong showing in the presidential poll.

The success of Mr Tudor and his party - with its strongly nationalist policies - caused concern in the European Union, which Romania aspires to join.

Growth promise

Mr Nastase promised to accelerate growth and take the country into Nato and the EU.

Corneliu Vadim Tudor
Centrist parties backed the PDSR to keep Mr Tudor out of parliamentary power
"Romania's future is linked to that of Europe," he said, adding that Nato was "the only reasonable option to guarantee our security".

The European Commission has said that Romania "cannot be regarded as a functioning market economy", and wants more austerity and reform.

Mr Nastase said his government aimed for economic growth of between 4.5% and 6%, mainly from foreign investment, growth of small and medium-sized enterprises, and privatisations.

He also hopes to reduce annual inflation to below 10% by the end of his mandate in 2004, from its current level of 40%.

Double victory

Mr Nastase was Romania's foreign minister from 1990-1992, and is a close ally and protege of President Ion Illiescu, who has regained power himself after four years in the political wilderness.

Ion Iliescu
Iliescu: Four more yeares as president, with his ally heading the government
Their double victory completes a triumphant return for the PDSR. The party was ousted in 1996, but the centrist coalition which took power then failed to fulfil its promises of economic reform.

Mr Nastase is the country's key political force, since the presidency has limited powers under the constitution.

With Mr Illiescu barred by the constitution from seeking another term at the next elections in 2004, Mr Nastase is a serious candidate for a future head of state.

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See also:

11 Dec 00 | Europe
Profile: Ion Iliescu
28 Nov 00 | Europe
Romania's far-right contender
27 Nov 00 | Europe
Election polarises Romania
11 Dec 00 | Europe
Iliescu wins Romania election
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