BUCHAREST, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Romania's opposition Social Democrat Party filed a no-confidence vote against the centrist minority government of Prime Minister Ludovic Orban on Monday in a move analysts said was aimed at bolstering support ahead of local and parliamentary elections.
The Social Democrats' leader Marcel Ciolacu said on Monday the Liberal government needed to go because of its poor handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
The European Union state has reported 71,194 infections and 3,029 deaths since late February and the government has extended a state of alert until mid-September.
The Social Democrats, who lost the government late last year but remain parliament's largest party, have seen their popular support halve since sweeping a 2016 parliamentary election, following repeated attempts to weaken the rule of law.
Meanwhile, Orban's Liberals stand a good chance of forming a coalition government after a parliamentary election likely due in November and restoring investor confidence, eroded by years of political instability and fiscal largesse. A local election will be held first, in late September.
The Social Democrats are just shy of the 233 votes they need to topple the government, and Ciolacu said negotiations with other parties were ongoing.
"This is the first time when there is no grey in Romanian politics," Ciolacu told reporters. "There is black and white. Romanians must know who is in power and who in opposition."
It was unclear when the vote would be held.
The Social Democrats "have lost credibility and they feel that if they lose massively in the local election they will be completely destabilized," said Sergiu Miscoiu, a political science professor at Babes-Bolyai University.
"The motion could pass just on the edge. By showing they are really in the opposition, they will strengthen their ranks. It is rather vital for them, or they risk disappearing." (Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Angus MacSwan)
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