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BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romania's Social Democrat party (PSD), victor of a general election two weeks ago, on Wednesday proposed former telecommunications minister Sorin Grindeanu, a veteran leftist politician, for prime minister.
The PSD's first pick to lead the cabinet was Sevil Shhaideh, a close associate of PSD leader Liviu Dragnea, who was ruled out of the job by his criminal sentence in a 2012 referendum-rigging case. Shhaideh's nomination was rejected by the president.
Grindeanu, a 43-year-old mathematician and former deputy mayor of the western city of Timisoara, currently the head of Timis county governing council, is expected to easily win the presidential seal of approval, political commentators said.
"Sorin Grindeanu goes there (to lead the government) for a full four-year term as prime minister," Dragnea told reporters. "We have chosen not to throw the country into political crisis.
"We had to find a solution in a colleague loyal to the governing programme and the party," he added.
Dragnea said it was unlikely a new leftist government would be in place before the end of the year. He has said he will closely watch over the government's performance.
The PSD won the Dec. 11 election by a wide margin and, with coalition partner and long-time ally ALDE, has 250 of the 465 seats in the two houses of parliament, meaning it would easily get parliamentary approval for its government.
Grindeanu "is a hard proposal to refuse", said Sergiu Miscoiu, political science professor at Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj.
"He is a regional pillar of the PSD, former deputy mayor, former minister, young. He meets the criteria."
The PSD's clear election victory has heightened uncertainty over Romania's ability to keep its budget deficit below the EU's ceiling of 3 percent of gross domestic product, as their governing programme includes ambitious spending plans.
The PSD and its ALDE junior ally will send the proposal to President Klaus Iohannis later in the day and the president is expected to endorse a prime minister-designate on Thursday.
"It is a great responsibility that I feel, not just my colleagues' vote but that of Romanians for a governing programme that we must enforce," Grindeanu said.
Reporting by Radu Marinas and Luiza Ilie; Editing by Andrew Roche