Ruling party ahead in Romanian elections
Monday, November 29, 2004
BUCHAREST, Romania – Romania's ruling Social Democrat Party (PSD) has emerged ahead in yesterday's legislative and presidential elections. The voter turnout was around 57% of all eligible voters, which number 18 million people in a country of 21.7 million.
However the PSD did not gain the vote majority needed to declare an outright victory, and it will now proceed to a run-off election against the centre-left opposition. Called the Truth and Justice Alliance, the main opposition is a union of candidates from the National Liberal Party and the Democrat Party.
While PSD+PUR is currently leading, the most hotly-contested election in Romania's post-Communist history may come down to the run-off, to be held on December 12. The winning presidential candidate of the run-off will not only become the country's president but will also appoint a prime minister to lead the government.
In the presidential election, Adrian Năstase, the PSD's presidential candidate, won approximately 42% of the vote, while Traian Băsescu of Truth and Justice obtained around 35%, according to exit polls.
Năstase led the exit polls due to greater support in rural Romania, as well as support from the urban poor, due to his policy of boosting the economy. Năstase's PSD+PUR coalition was also supported because they are credited with saving Romania from economic collapse during their presidential and legislative term from 2000 until the present time. During his term of prime-minister of Romania, from 2000 to 2004, Năstase not only boosted the economy but ensured that Romania entered NATO and progressed towards its accession to the European Union, expected to occur in 2007. In 2004, the economy is expected to grow by 8.6%, the highest rate in Europe.
Băsescu won a majority in Bucharest, Romania's capital, as well as in the wealthier cities of Transylvania. Băsescu is supported by the educated middle-class, who take a favourable view upon his policy of stamping out corruption in one of the region's most corrupt countries. Băsescu has also received a boost due to his liberalist policies and his proposal for tax reform and the introduction of a flat tax.
In the legislative election, the PSD+PUR coalition obtained 40% of the vote, while the Truth and Justice alliance trailed with 35%. Because the PSD+PUR coalition did not gather the majority of the votes (50%+1), it will have to form a governing coalition with the minor parties, a process which is expected to be tedious given the fact that both of the major parties have ruled out entering into a coalition with ultra-nationalist The Greater Romania Party, which obtained around 12% of the vote.