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News 06 Dec 12

Landslide Predicted For Ponta in Romania Election

The leftist coalition led by Victor Ponta is on course to win the December 9 parliamentary elections by a handsome margin.

Marian Chiriac
Bucharest

Latest polls suggest the coalition of Prime Minister Victor Ponta will win Sunday's general  election with a large majority, although whether the result will end the disputes between the coalition and President Traian Basescu is unclear.

Ponta's Social Liberal Union, USL, is expected to win around 60 per cent of the votes, according to a survey by IMAS pollster and published on Wednesday.

The Alliance for the Romanian Right, ARD, a new grouping of centre-right parties, dominated by the opposition Democratic Liberals and aligned with Basescu, has the support of 17 per cent.

The poll suggsts that the formation of the new alliance has not helped the Democratic Liberals recover their position, as the party remains unpopular for enforcing austerity measures in the past.

The People's Party, PP, a populist party that advocates big tax cuts and higher wages and pensions, came third in the poll with 16 per cent.

The PP is run by journalist-turned businessman Dan Diaconescu who is under investigation for allegedly breaking the law in relation to his a bid for a chemical company, Oltchim, which was subsequently thrown out by privatisation officials.

The main party of the ethnic Hungarians in Romania, UDMR, is likely to enter parliament with around 5 per cent of the votes cast, say the polls, which have a margin of error of 1.4 percentage points.

Two other polls conducted over the past week show similar results for all political parties.

While the winner of the next election seems clear, analysts fear a new political crisis may be not in coming.

“Romania is likely to enter a new period of political turbulence as cohabitation between a USL-backed government and Basescu will be difficult," a political analyst, Mircea Kivu, predicted.

"It could start if President Basescu tries to appoint an ally to form a coalition government if the USL fails to win an outright majority,” he speculated.

Romania has been ruled by three governments this year alone. A long dispute between Ponta and Basescu resulted in a referendum on the impeachment of the President on July 29. Most Romanians voted for impeachment but Basescu remained in his post because the turnout was low at only 46 per cent.

For an impeachment vote to be validated by the Constitutional Court, a turnout of at least 50 per was required.

Ponta’s battles with the President have caused concern in Brussels about Romania’s continued commitment to the rule of law. He has since promised to address those worries.

Basescu's second and final term as head of state according to the constitution expires in late 2014.

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