Romanian Prime Minister Emil Boc has resigned today in order to “defuse political and social tension” after more than three weeks of protests against austerity measures.
Speaking after a cabinet meeting, PM Emil Boc said he had given up the government’s mandate as “it is the moment for important political decisions”.
Although Romania’s economy grew last year, the government has been hit by three weeks of demonstrations.
Emil Boc government has imposed a 25% cut in public sector wages and a freeze on pensions.
Sales tax was also increased to 24%, in a country seen as Europe’s second poorest.
Romania needs to implement the measures to qualify for the next installment of 20 billion Euros ($25 billion) bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
In a statement, Emil Boc, 45, said that in a time of crisis, his centrist government had not taken part in a popularity contest but had acted to save the country.
“I know that I made difficult decisions, but the fruits have begun to appear,” PM Emil Boc said.
Elections in Romania are scheduled to take place in November and there is speculation that President Traian Basescu may seek to appoint a technocrat-led government until the vote.
Protests broke out last month, initially against the resignation of popular junior health minister Raed Arafat, but soon became an expression of discontent against austerity and corruption.
The left-wing opposition USL alliance, headed by Victor Ponta and Crin Antonescu, leaders of Social Democrat Party and Liberal Party, is currently leading the opinion polls. Victor Ponta suggested last week that Romania should either have early elections similar to Spain, or temporarily install a technocrat administration, like Italy.