Romania to hold presidential run-off

More than 18 million Romanians are expected to go to the polls on Sunday to choose a president between incumbent Traian Basescu and social democrat leader Mircea Geoana.

The two entered the run-off after none of the 12 contenders could get enough votes for an outright victory in the first round on Nov. 22.

Basescu captured 32 percent of the votes and Geoana 31 percent in the first round.

Romania has been in the hands of a caretaker government since mid-October, when the democrat-liberal government was ousted by a no-confidence vote in parliament. President Basescu failed to push through parliament his nominations for a new head of government.

The presidential run-off election on Sunday has been widely seen as crucial for Romania. The winner will have to move quickly to name the country’s new prime minister and resolve a political crisis that has led international donors to postpone a massive aid package -- the third installment of a 20-billion euro (29.65-billion U.S. dollars) bailout package led by the International Monetary Fund.

The 58-year-old Basescu, endorsed by the ruling Democratic-Liberal Party, faces strong challenge from Geoana, who is supported not only by the Social Democratic Party-Conservative Party Alliance, but also by other opposition parties in parliament, including the National Liberal Party and the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania.

Soon after the first-round elections, three opposition parties -- the Social Democrats, the Liberals and the Hungarian Minority Party -- struck a political deal to support 51-year-old Geoana in the run-off vote.

The three opposition parties also backed the nomination of independent politician Klaus Johannis, an ethnic German and mayor of the central city of Sibiu, for premiership. In a marathon debate with Geoana on Thursday, Basescu argued that he represented a Romania of accelerated reform while his challenger represented a Romania of the past, where politicians governed for themselves and their vested interests.

Geoana, a former ambassador to the United States and ex-foreign minister, stressed on Friday that the most important promise he made in the electoral campaign was to stop the economic downturn and put an end to political instability created by Basescu. Under the Constitution, the president is elected for a five-year term and can be re-elected once.

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Printable version | Sep 17, 2021 10:58:05 PM |

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