Romanian president Traian Basescu has nominated the country’s intelligence service chief as prime minister, hours after Emil Bloc resigned amid austerity protests.
“The ruling coalition agreed to appoint Mihai Razvan Ungureanu as prime minister designate,” President Traian Basescu said in a statement.
The nomination now requires approval by Romania’s parliament.
Former PM Emil Boc, 45, said he was stepping down to “defuse political and social tension” in the face of three weeks of protests.
Speaking after a cabinet meeting, Emil Boc said he had given up the government’s mandate as “it is the moment for important political decisions”.
Emil Boc 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 said it needed to implement the measures to qualify for the next instalment of a 20 billion-euro ($25 billion) bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
After Emil Boc resignation, President Traian Basescu took the procedural step of appointing the former Justice Minister Catalin Predoiu as caretaker prime minister, before announcing the nomination of Mihai Razvan Ungureanu.
Mihai Razvan Ungureanu, 43, has a master’s degree from Oxford University and was foreign minister between 2004 and 2007 during Traian Basescu’s first term of office.
“Reforms will continue. The added value that I will bring resides in my experience as a manager,” said Mihai Razvan Ungureanu after his nomination.
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, 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.
Victor Ponta has said he favours continuing the current, $26 billion standby credit agreement with the IMF, but would like to gradually adjust it.