Exit polls give victory to Romanian left

Mon, Dec 10, 2012, 00:00

Exit polls showed Romania’s prime minister winning a clear victory in yesterday’s general election, which may herald another round of a power struggle with the right-wing president and complicate talks for a new IMF deal.

Victor Ponta’s left-wing Social Liberal Union (USL) won 54-58 per cent of votes according to exit polls and is headed for a majority, but analysts said President Traian Basescu could ask someone else from the party to form a government.

Any prolonged period without a new administration in place would unnerve markets and raise questions about how Romania would obtain a new International Monetary Fund deal once the current agreement expires in early 2013.

Mr Ponta tried to impeach Mr Basescu in July, a campaign that brought harsh criticism from the European Union and United States and has left the two men uncomfortably sharing power.

“2012 has been the year of victory against Traian Basescu, and 2013 must be the year of victory against the economic crisis and poverty,” USL joint leader Crin Antonescu told reporters.


The former communist country has made progress in some areas since the 1989 revolution that overthrew dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, but although it joined the European Union in 2007, it remains the bloc’s second poorest member.

Heavy snow, rain and fog across the country depressed turnout, which was only 37 percent by early evening, but also reflected deep dissatisfaction with politicians, many of whom voters view as corrupt.

Romania lags behind other post-communist countries such as Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, struggling to supply water and electricity to some of its 19 million people. Long-term reforms such as privatisation and an overhaul of healthcare have also failed to materialise.

The exit polls put opposition Right Romania Alliance (ARD), allies of Basescu and unpopular for pushing austerity, on 19 percent and populist Dan Diaconescu, who wants deep tax cuts, in third place with 10-13 percent of the vote.

The USL has benefited from disenchantment with Mr Basescu and the ARD, who pushed through salary cuts and higher sales tax before they lost power in a parliamentary confidence vote in April. But lacklustre economic growth will give the next administration little room to ease cost cuts and tax rises.

“Things will remain exactly the same after this election, if not worse,” said pensioner Mufide Suliman in a cold and rainy Bucharest. “I dont hold any hope for us. Maybe my grandchildren will have a better life.”