- Associated Press - Thursday, December 23, 2010

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania's government survived a no-confidence motion in Parliament on Thursday in a session overshadowed by a man who flung himself from the chamber’s balcony, apparently in protest over government austerity measures.

His injuries were not life-threatening. A loud thud reverberated in the chamber after the man, Adrian Sobaru — identified by the country’s public television station as one of its engineers — jumped from a height of about 23 feet.

He hit the benches shortly after Prime Minister Emil Boc greeted the lawmakers. No one else was injured.

Mr. Boc looked startled and rushed over to Mr. Sobaru, along with other lawmakers, before Speaker Mircea Geoana briefly postponed the session.


Mr. Boc called the incident “a tragedy that shocked me” and appealed for calm “in these tough times.”

The session resumed without the presence of opposition lawmakers, who walked out when their request to reschedule the motion was not approved. The opposition needed 236 votes to topple the government, which survived because no vote for the motion was cast.

Romania's government is mired in recession, and it recently slashed public-sector wages by one-fourth. The sales tax was increased from 19 percent to 24 percent, measures adopted by the government to keep the budget deficit at 6.8 percent in 2010. Its economy is expected to decline by 2 percent this year, after it contracted by 7.1 percent in 2009. The cuts have angered many Romanians.

Photos show Mr. Sobaru standing on a balcony above where lawmakers were sitting, before he jumped. More than half a dozen lawmakers watched him fall. The images show Mr. Sobaru wearing a white T-shirt, with the words “You’ve pierced us. You’ve killed our children’s future. Freedom,” in a reference to government policy.

The first line was a reference to President Traian Basescu, who upon winning the presidential race in 2009 said, “I’ve pierced them,” using a well-known line from a Romanian movie.

As emergency medical workers took him out on a stretcher, Mr. Sobaru shouted “Freedom!” — echoing cries of the 1989 fall of communism in which more than 1,300 people died. Romanians are commemorating the 21st anniversary of the uprising in which authorities shot unarmed protesters.

Mr. Sobaru sustained face wounds and other injuries that are not life-threatening, said Catalin Carstoiu, manager at the University Hospital. He will undergo surgery and psychological counseling, Mr. Carstoiu said.

Alina Wolfe Murray in Bucharest also contributed to this report.