Home>News Center>World

Opposition candidate wins Romania election
Updated: 2004-12-14 09:16

Bucharest mayor and conservative opposition candidate Traian Basescu faced the task of forming a government from fragmented parliamentary support after winning Romania's presidential election.

"Today my priority is to form, as soon as possible, a government capable of continuing membership negotiations for Romania to join the European Union," Basescu told a press conference after his rival to succeed President Ion Iliescu, Prime Minister Adrian Nastase, conceded defeat.

But his declared aim to form a stable majority in parliament around his Justice and Truth (DA) alliance seemed problematic, given the lack of a clear winner from last month's legislative elections.

Bucharest mayor and conservative opposition candidate Traian Basescu speaks to the press after winning Romania's presidential election, in Bucharest. [AFP]
Bucharest mayor and conservative opposition candidate Traian Basescu speaks to the press after winning Romania's presidential election, in Bucharest. [AFP]
While Nastase's Social Democrat party said it had secured the backing of the small Humanist Party (PUR) and the ethnic Hungarian-based Democratic Union of Magyars of Romania (UDMR) to secure a majority, both groups hinted in the wake of Basescu's victory that they could change their minds.

The UDMR was allied with the centre-right government which led Romania for four years from 1996 then switched sides after Nastase's election victory of 2000.

Its leader Bela Marko said that while his party was currently supporting a Social Democrat-led parliament it might reconsider its position if the situation changed.

The UDMR's conditions for lending its support to any party included political stability from a majority government, the rejection of any form of link to the far-right Romania Mare, and recognition of the interests of the Hungarian minority.

The PUR, which had formed a partnership with the Social Democrats before the November 28 parliamentary polls, said Monday it was "politically independent" of Nastase's party.

"The PUR calls on politicians to place national interest above ambition. Whatever is the shape of the new governmental structure, the PUR will work honestly for the future of the country."

If the UDMR and PUR switch sides, along with the 18 members of parliament representing Romania's minorities, the DA and its allies would have 239 seats out of the 469 in the assembly.

Nastase however, while conceding defeat at Basescu's hands, said it was up to the Social Democrats to name the next prime minister.

"We already have a majority in parliament and want to stress that Romania cannot afford a period of hesitation because of the target of joining the EU in 2007," he said.

"We are prepared to support Mr Basescu's objectives as president and we hope that he will also support those of the next government."

Analysis of the results showed that Romanians are divided along lines of social class, age and milieu, though their support for one or the other candidate revealed pardoxes.

The more conservative Basescu was backed by the young and the urban middle classes, while Nastase was favoured by the older generation, lower income groups and rural dwellers, even though they are less keen on the drive to join the EU strongly espoused by the prime minister over the past four years.

Nastase called Monday on Basescu -- who also backs EU membership -- not to forget those who felt left out and were struggling to survive on two-thirds or in some cases less than half the average wage.

The race to succeed Iliescu had been dominated by Romania's EU membership, expected in 2007, and charges of pervasive corruption in the formerly communist eastern European state.

Nastase had been the solid favorite in the race for president, outpolling his rival in the first round, but a last-minute jump in turnout in the capital appeared to have swung the vote towards him.

Basescu and several independent non-governmental organizations charged fraud after losing the first round on November 28 to Nastase, but late on Sunday he was upbeat that vote counting would take place properly, boosted by the presence of some 3,300 independent observers.

  Today's Top News     Top World News

Sino-Russian joint military drill planned



Country to set up new nuke tech company



Control on SOEs to be tighter to avoid risk



Embassy: No decision made on Japanese aid



36 still trapped in mine, rescue goes on



Beijing readies for coming job strains


  Ukraine govt aims to control poison probe
  Bush nominates Leavitt for HHS position
  EU, U.S. in contact with Hamas, group leader says
  Darfur rebels suspend peace talks over attacks
  Oracle acquires PeopleSoft in $10.3b deal
  WTO agrees entry talks with Iraq, Afghanistan
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  Related Stories  
Two candidates claim Romanian presidency
Hu urges efforts to promote world peace
  News Talk  
  Are the Republicans exploiting the memory of 9/11?