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Romania's governing USL claims victory "against Basescu regime" in parliamentary elections

de V.O.
Duminică, 9 decembrie 2012, 22:36 English | Top News

Leaders of Romania's governing Social Liberal Union (USL) including Social Democratic PM Victor Ponta Liberal Senate speaker Crin Antonescu claimed victory in the parliamentary elections today, with exit polls showing USL getting over 50% of the votes. They said it was a "victory against the [President Traian] Basescu's regime" and insisted that NATO and EU will remain the "cardinal directions" of Romanian foreign policy. Meanwhile, opposition ARD alliance said they trusted it will reach its 20% target - while reports claim some of ARD leaders might not even enter Parliament.

Crin Antonescu, leader of USL-member National Liberal Party (PNL), said shortly after exit-polls were announced that the parliamentary elections were a "victory against the Basescu regime". And he underlined that NATO and EU membership will remain the "cardinal direction" of Romanian foreign policy.

He said that "without a doubt" PM Victor Ponta, leader of USL-member Social Democratic Party (PSD) will remain as head as government - a reference to taunts by President Basescu that he was not ready to trust Ponta with a new term as prime minister.

Antonescu said the USL program focuses on strengthening and "re-establishing" the rule of law, democracy. Major Western officials have shown criticism of USL's complying with the rule of law and state institutions for the seven months it has been in charge with the government.

Of note is that the USL leaders did not show up for joint statements following the elections. But PSD leader Victor Ponta, speaking from his electoral college in Targu Jiu city, re-affirmed much of what Antonescu said and provided assurances that the USL will stay united after the polls.

Ponta said two thirds of voters in his college voted for him, thus allowing him defeat populist PPDD party leader Dan Diaconescu, who ran for a seat in the Parliament in the same college as Ponta.

Among the priorities mentioned by Victor Ponta tonight:
  • a review of the Constitution
  • membership of the European family
  • jobs, fiscal stability, social justice
  • "who lives by the sword will die by the sword"

Ponta said he discussed with Hungarian Democrats (UDMR) leader Kelemen Hunor and that Hunor assured him UDMR was available to collaborate with USL for a parliamentary majority. While USL may gain the majority in Parliament, it needs further support for a constitutional majority of two thirds, which would allow the alliance to push to major changes unimpeded.

But UDMR is on the brink of losing its presence in the Parliament for the first time in post-communist Romania. 1%-margin exit polls show UDMR won 5% of votes, exactly the percentage needed for the party to be able to enter Parliament. UDMR won less votes than in previous elections, with commentators showing that for the first time it had a rival in the competition for ethnic Hungarian votes (a smaller political group supported by influential Laszlo Tokes)  and that it failed to reform despite changes in UDMR leadership last year.

Vasile Blaga, leader of the Democratic Liberal Party (PDL) and one of the leaders of the opposition Right Romania Alliance - uniting several rightist parties and political groups, most of them supporting President Traian Basescu - said following the exit polls that he trusted ARD will reach its target of 20% of votes.

As ARD was overly silent throughout the electoral campaign, raising suspicions of behind the scenes deals with USL, Vasile Blaga said on Sunday night that the ARD result was "special" considering the "mystification and manipulation campaign" run by USL.

But according to a report by USL-friendly Romania TV news channel Vasile Blaga and other leaders of ARD, including ex-PM Mihai Razvan Ungureanu and Mihail Neamtu, were defeated in their colleges and was not yet clear if they'd enter Parliament.

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