By Radu-Sorin Marinas
BUCHAREST (Reuters) - The National Liberal Party's (PNL) proposal of Finance Minister Florin Citu as Romania's prime minister was endorsed by two other centrist, would-be coalition partners, officials said on Friday.
The PNL, which has led the government since the pandemic emerged, were in pole position to form a coalition with the USR-Plus party and the ethnic Hungarian UDMR, after the three secured 53% of seats.
The next government will face a daunting task of using its slim majority to restore confidence in the economy, which analysts say has been hurt by decades of fiscal largesse, which has brought it one-notch closer to losing its investment-grade status.
"After several days of talks, the groups agreed to our proposal made last Wednesday to have Citu as premier," a PNL official told Reuters, adding that partners scrapped a bid to endorse European farm commissioner Dacian Ciolos for the post.
Another official who declined to be named because the talks are ongoing, said that former Prime Minister Ludovic Orban who heads the PNL, would be endorsed as the speaker of the lower house of parliament.
On Dec. 9 the PNL proposed Citu and President Klaus Iohannis, a PNL ally, said he would endorse a jointly-agreed coalition candidate for the post.
Under Romanian law, the president designates a premier following an election and any coalition talks and can bypass the winning party if it fails to secure an outright majority.
U.S.-educated Citu, who has worked for the European Investment Bank and New Zealand's central bank, would have to form a cabinet within 10 days of being nominated by Iohannis.
A vote of confidence to endorse the new Citu cabinet could take place in parliament by Dec. 31.
(Editing by Louise Heavens)