GOVERNMENT The 466 Romanian Deputies and Senators elected on December 6 Saturday started the procedures for taking over their seats and forming the new Parliament. President Klaus Iohannis convened the first meeting of the new legislative on Monday, December 21st. Representatives of the future right-of-centre ruling coalition Saturday continued their negotiations on the governing programme, after having announced on Friday night an agreement on the distribution of key positions in the new parliament and cabinet. Specifically, the coalition agreed that the Chamber of Deputies speaker position will be held by the Liberals, and the Senate speaker post will go to the USR PLUS Alliance. The PM designate will be the incumbent finance minister Florin Cîţu. The Liberals will get 9 ministries in the new cabinet, USR PLUS - 6, and the Democratic Union of Ethnic Hungarians, 3. The latter 2 parties will also appoint 2 deputy prime ministers. Meanwhile, the Social Democratic Party, which came first in the general election, insists that the fair solution in the current circumstances is a government of national union, headed by Alexandru Rafila, who represents Romania at the World Health Organisation. The Social Democratic president Marcel Ciolacu said his party will never endorse a government made up of the National Liberal Party, USR PLUS Alliance, and the Democratic Union of Ethnic Hungarians, which, he says, keeps Romania in an ongoing crisis.
COVID-19 5,158 new Covid-19 cases were reported on Saturday, out of nearly 25,800 tests conducted across the country. Another 188 COVID-related deaths were also reported, taking the total death toll to 14,296. 1,274 patients are currently in intensive care. Since the start of the pandemic, nearly 588,000 cases have been reported in Romania, over 493,000 of whom have recovered. President Klaus Iohannis warned that until enough people have received vaccines, all restrictions must be complied with. Containment measures are to remain in place during the winter holidays.
COMMEMORATION Romania continues to commemorate the heroes that died in the anti-communist Revolution of December 1989. Timişoara celebrates on December 20th Victory Day, when the city was declared free from communism. The uprising first started in this western Romanian city 31 years ago, on December 16th. The following day, the dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu ordered the use of lethal ammunition against street protesters. On December 19, to cover the massacre, the communist authorities implemented the so-called Operation “Rose,” with bodies taken from the Timişoara morgue to be incinerated in Bucharest. The protests in Timișoara, which left around 100 dead and some 350 wounded, were the spark that led to the collapse of the Ceausescu dictatorship a few days later, in one of the most violent revolutions in south-eastern Europe.
PANDEMIC India reported on Saturdayover 10 million coronavirus cases, the 2nd-largest number in the world. The US, the worst hit country, as of this weekend has a second vaccine ready for delivery, the one produced by Moderna, which is easier to ship and store than the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. The European Medicines Agency announced a decision on the Moderna vaccine is scheduled on January 6, while the Pfizer one will be approved next week. Meanwhile, tough restrictions are announced in Italy during the winter holidays. Restaurants and bars will be closed between December 24 and January 6, and so will most shops, except for 4 days. People will be allowed to receive only 2 guests at home, and as of Monday all citizens entering the country have to be quarantined for 14 days. Britain also introduced strict anti-COVID measures after a surge in infections, possibly caused by a coronavirus mutation.
SPORTS Romania won the silver medals in the European Artistic Gymnastics Championship held in Mersin (Turkey), on Saturday, after they held the best place in Thursday’s qualifications. Romania was outperformed by Ukraine, which won the gold. Third came Hungary. On Sunday, Romania will have competitors in all the apparatus finals, with star gymnast Larisa Iordache qualified in 4 finals (beam, floor, uneven bars and vault). Ioana Stănciulescu will compete in the vault final, Silviana Sfiringu in the beam final and Irina Antonia Duţă in the floor event. (tr. A.M. Popescu)