Traian Basescu will attend the European Council that begins in Brussels today (10 December) with a new mandate as president of Romania, after being re-elected on Sunday (6 December).
But the narrowness of his victory has left question-marks over whether he can put in place a government to restore the country’s economic fortunes.
Basescu will have to nominate a prime minister who can command the support of the national parliament if he is to see the resumption of payments of an emergency €20 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other international financial institutions.
For its part, the European Commission wants a restoration of political stability so that Romania can reform its judiciary and strengthen its anti-corruption institutions.
The National Liberal Party (PNL), the third-largest party in the national parliament, announced last night, as European Voice was going to print, that it would not give its backing to Basescu’s Democrat Liberal Party (PDL). Crin Antonescu, leader of the PNL, who polled third in the first round of the presidential contest, said before Sunday’s second round that the PNL would not make an alliance with Basescu. But Basescu has been making overtures to Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, a leading figure in the PNL and a former prime minister.
In Sunday’s run-off, Basescu polled 50.33% of the votes, against 49.66% for Mircea Geoana, the candidate of the Social Democrat Party (PSD). The result was so close that on Sunday night both candidates claimed victory.
The defeated Geoana accused Basescu of “verifiable extreme electoral fraud” and called on the country’s constitutional court to annul the result. The court is to rule today on the legality of the contest.
Dan Nica, vice-president of the PSD, claimed that the liberal democrats had bought at least 136,000 of the votes. “Basescu’s electoral fraud was national, premeditated and systematic,” Nica said.
Since Emil Boc submitted his resignation as prime minister on 13 October, Basescu has twice nominated a candidate to replace him, but both candidates have been rejected by the parliament, and Boc remains in office on a caretaker basis.
After the Boc government fell, the IMF froze the payment schedule of a €20bn emergency loan. The IMF said that the second and third payments, together worth €13bn, would depend on the formation of a new government. The IMF wants the new government to cut spending and reduce salaries for public servants. But political analysts say that that will be possible only if there is a government coalition with a comfortable majority in parliament.
“The political crisis is a game in which the main players are the political parties and the only chance for political stability rests on the parties’ ability to reach a political consensus,” said Elena Iorga, a political analyst at the Bucharest-based Institute for Public Policy.
The Commission will publish its next report on Romania’s progress in reforming its judiciary and fighting corruption early next year, probably in February.
When Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU on 1 January 2007, the other member states imposed a safeguard clause, giving them the possibility of suspending their recognition of Bulgarian and Romanian court judgments. That clause, which has never been activated, will expire at the end of this month.
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