March 14, 2020 / 3:35 PM / 20 days ago

UPDATE 1-Romanian lawmakers endorse PM Orban in vote of confidence

(Adds PM quote, detail)

By Radu-Sorin Marinas

BUCHAREST, March 14 (Reuters) - Romania's centrist Prime Minister Ludovic Orban won a parliamentary vote of confidence by a large margin as expected, on Saturday, with all parties seeking to end a political stalemate and focus on reining in the spread of coronavirus.

President Klaus Iohannis asked the interim premier to form a government on Friday.

Cabinet ministers quarantined themselves for two weeks, after coming into contact with a coronavirus-infected lawmaker.

"It's been 286 votes for the government out of 309 cast ballots and 23 MPs voted against it," a senior ruling party deputy told Reuters.

Lawmakers toppled Orban's minority Liberal government at the beginning of February, but he has continued running the country on an interim basis with limited powers.

Since then, rival parties have been jockeying for position before municipal and parliament elections in June, respectively in November this year.

But the onset of the coronavirus, which has so far infected 102 people in the European Union member, meant Orban's nomination passed very easily through parliament - restoring full powers to his government to fight the outbreak.

"Our party has taken full responsibility at these difficult times, and now, with a full power government, I'm confident we will manage to rein in coronavirus more resolutely," Orban said in an online speech.

On Saturday, Romania heightened restrictions enforced so far, banning cultural, scientific, religious activities involving more than 50 people in a closed space from 100. (Editing by Edmund Blair)

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