28/11/2004 - Results - 1st round
According to the first results of 68.6% of the polling stations Adrian Nastase, Romania's present Prime Minister and candidate of the Union of the Social Democrat Party and the Romanian Humanist Party (PSD-PUR), took the lead in the first round of the Romanian presidential election, winning 40.24% of the vote ahead of his main rival, the Mayor of Bucharest, Traian Basescu, the candidate standing for the Justice and Truth Alliance (DA), who won 33.89% of the vote. "Today I voted for a simple idea: Romania without poverty," emphasised the Prime Minister after having placed his voting slip in the ballot box. The opposition leader, for his part, said that he was confident. "The Alliance will wrench Romania from the hands of the mafia and place it in the hands of the Romanians," he maintained after having voted, adding that he would be "a strong President who loves his people." Corneliu Vadim Tudor, standing for the Great Romania Party (PRM), came third with 12% of the vote, i.e. a net decrease in comparison with the first round of the previous presidential election on 26th November 2000 when the extreme rightwing candidate won 28.34% of the vote and when he managed to go through into the second round. His renunciation of nationalist rhetoric for the fight against corruption (in his manifesto Corneliu Vadim Tudor promised "to stamp out the mafia in Romania in forty-eight hours") just as Traian Basescu was delivering the same speech but in a more credible manner, did not help the populist leader, who lost his position as opposition leader - a position he had occupied during the last presidential election in 2000.
The Social Democrat Party (PSD-PUR) also came out ahead in the general and senatorial elections winning, in the general election it won 35.9% of the vote versus 31.44% for the Justice and Truth Alliance. In the senatorial elections the PSD won 36.45% of the vote versus 31.72% for Justice and Truth Alliance. As in the presidential election the Great Romania Party came third winning 12.9% of the vote in the general and 13.1% in the senatorial elections; the Democratic Union of Romanian Magyars (UDMR) was the only party to rise above the vital 5% mark necessary to be represented in Parliament, winning 6.1% of the vote in the general and 6.2% in the senatorial elections. Although the Hungarian party says that it is ready to make an alliance with the winning party its number of seats will be inadequate to enable the Social Democrat Party to gain a majority in Parliament. Since there is no party able to gain the majority the next government will be the result of a coalition. For the time being the Social Democrat Party has refused to exclude a possible alliance with the Great Romania Party with whom, we should remember, it governed the country between 1992 and 1996. The PSD might however find it difficult to justify an alliance such as this to the European Union. For its part the Justice and Truth Alliance has already rejected any agreement with the extreme rightwing party "even if that means that the Alliance remains on the Opposition benches". An alliance with the PRM is out of the question," said Ionut Popescu, the Alliance spokesperson. "But we are still counting on an alliance with the Democratic Union of Romanian Magyars" he added. "We do not think that the leader of the Great Romania Party can be democratic and Romania is in desperate need of democracy," declared Traian Basescu mid-November during his electoral campaign. The lack of a majority in Parliament enabled the opposition candidate to refute his party's defeat in the general elections. "The battle for Romania will occur in the second round of the presidential election since no party obtained more than 50% of the vote," he declared.
The opposition parties - the Democrat Party (PD) and the National Liberal Party (PNL) that are grouped together in the Justice and Truth Alliance - also accused the authorities of electoral fraud, alleged to have effected the results by about 5%. They asked the Central Electoral Bureau to launch an enquiry. "Romania has the right to have just elections and to be led by the real winners of the election" emphasised the opposition candidate, Traian Basescu, adding that his party would request access to the electoral rolls in order to identify the cheats who voted several times. "Just as the democratic process seems to becoming a reality in Romania the danger of the multiple vote in any polling station to the backdrop of the deferment of voters' cards raises questions about the election on Sunday," declared the Organisation for the Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in a press release that was published on Monday morning. Romanian voters were indeed called to vote on the simple presentation of their identity card since their voters' cards had been declared invalid before the elections. The head of the OSCE delegation, Gerald Mitchell was sorry that the Romanian authorities had not been able to "provide any explanation about their decision to withdraw the cards that were intended to avoid fraud". The main Romanian association for the defence of civic rights, Pro Democratia that had deployed several thousand observers across the country for the election announced for its parts the withdrawal of all of its observers in the second round of the presidential election due to the "numerous infringements recorded". The association indicated that it had been "submerged with complaints about irregularities". These included the transportation of voters by bus to several polling stations, the use of mobile ballot boxes, the disappearance of hundreds of voting slips and even the existence of electoral rolls that made it possible to vote several times. "We decided to withdraw our observers from the second round of the presidential election in protest against the defects in the Romanian system," declared the president of Pro Democratia, Cristian Parvulescu.
"The election is much tighter that we have been led to believe," maintained Cristian Preda, a political analyst at the University of Bucharest. Those who voted for Corneliu Vadim Tudor will therefore play a decisive role in the second round of the presidential election that is to take place on 12th December next and that will witness the confrontation between the Prime Minister Adrian Nastase and the Mayor of Bucharest Traian Basescu. The extreme rightwing leader announced that he say what his position is in the middle of this week. "We shall make a declaration about a possible alliance with one or the other of the two parties that emerge as leaders after the final election results," declared one of the vice-Presidents of the Great Romania Party; Corneliu Ciontu, added that his party might also "give no indication which way to vote to his electorate."
"It will be very difficult to form a new government and, for the first time in its history since the fall of the communist regime in December 1989, Romania will witness a shortened term of office and very soon there will be early elections," declared political analyst Florin Petria. However the country really does need to see the rapid establishment of its future government in order to finalise its accession negotiations with the EU in a few weeks time; Romania's accession to EU25 should, according to all probability, occur in January 2007 and be confirmed officially during the European Council that is to take place in Brussels on 16th and 17th December next.