crin(Photo source) Today, Sunday 9th December, Romanians (or some of them at least) elected their new members for both Senate and Chamber of Deputies in a ballot considered crucial for the country’s political stability. Results were pretty fast in coming in (probably coz there weren't THAT many to count), at least for the exit polls, though the official results will be given tomorrow...

TVR1 reports that USL has won by a landslide with 56.96% for the Chamber of Deputies and 57.58% for the Senate, ARD 18.12%, PPDD (Dan Diaconescu People’s Party) 13.19%, UDMR 5.16% and PPMT 1.16%. The diaspora votes are yet to be counted as far as I know and I expect them to be pro-ARD, but anything is possible. How accurate the exit poll result is is really neither here nor there. What is clear is that the people of Romania have opted for USL. Welcome back Mr Iliescu and his cronies of the Copy-Paste Brigade. I expect Nastase is joyfully packing his suitcase as we speak, taking down his stocking from his prison-cell bars and shall surely be home for Christmas. If that is what the Romanian people want, then that is what the Romanian people will get.

Due to either the dreadful weather, sheer can't-be-botheredness or there's-no-one-decent-to-vote-forism, only 35.43% of the ENTIRE COUNTRY actually voted, so personally, I cannot see how this can be called a landslide victory... still, the people, however few, have spoken.

According to THIS site, 'Romania’s Ministry of Administration and Interior (MAI) received 66 signals for violations in the first hours after the start of the elections – between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m., the press service of the ministry announced for FOCUS News Agency.

“Between 07.00 and 11.00 hrs, through the National Reporting and Monitoring System 66 notification were recorded. Out of the total number of incidents, 37 events took place in the urban area, while 29 in the rural area. The most of these incidents took place in Bucharest (12) and in Buzau and Olt (11 in each of them).Two minor offences were identified and sanctioned, the fines applied amounting to 1,500 lei, and investigations are being conducted in two presumably criminal offences. A videoconference with the prefects on the severe weather conditions and on the development of the voting process is scheduled at the MAI venue at 3 p.m.,” the official press release informs.' I expect there'll be far more tales of voting corruption over the next few days.

Mr Basescu has indicated he won't appoint Ponta again, labelling him a "compulsive liar" and adding that he plagiarised his doctoral thesis - a shameful point that everybody knows but nobody is prepared to do anything about. Ponta says Basescu is a divisive figure who overstepped his role as president by meddling in government business.

"We won a clear majority, a majority recognised by our adversaries who have to accept the rules of democracy," Ponta said after the vote. However, he seems to have conveniently forgotten that he must put up with Mr Basescu until his mandate comes to an end in 2014 and also that the Constitution states that the PM should come from the winning party - USL is a coalition made up of FOUR parties, so there is nothing to say that he does, actually, have the majority if one breaks down the results category by category.

The power struggle between the top two leaders has driven a great many Romanians to distraction since USL's arrival in the spring, especially as the country remains one of the poorest and most corrupt members of the European Union. Romania is enduring deep austerity cuts in return for a €20 million ($26 million) bailout to help its floundering economy, but, as we know, it is not alone in having to tighten its belt.

Besides the failed bid to impeach Basescu in the summer, Romania has seen three prime ministers and Cabinets this year and huge anti-austerity protests. The EU and the U.S. criticised the government for failing to respect the rule of law and ignoring constitutional rules during the impeachment attempt. The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe monitored today's vote.

God help Romania - she is far from having 'sortie de l'auberge'...


10th December, 13h: UPDATE (translated from MZ's always-wonderful analysis in French)

'41.7% of Romanians voted, frauds included. Perhaps the fraud wasn't on the same level as that seen during the summer referendum, but not to break the habit of a life-time, there was rather a lot of 'electoral tourism' going on, ie. people herded into buses and/or coaches and taken to vote, often rewarded with a bit of money and light refreshments.

One of the Romanian newspapers went as far as to entitle an article 'The Polls of the Illiterate'. It is true that the most active electoral group are above all simple people from the countryside. For them, it's a rare occasion for a party and also the day whereby they are taken into consideration. I don't know whether or not they believe that the 'new team' will build them roads, a water supply, somewhere to work or send doctors and teachers to their little corner of the world, but they vote not even knowing the name of the person they are electing more often than not. It is the village mayor who shows them who to vote for on their bulletin.

The results :
- the 4 parties of the governmental coalition (USL) have 60 % of the votes
- the President's party (ARD) 17%
- DD's party (PPDD) 14%
- the Hungarian minority party (UDMR) 5%
And that's when the dance begins... The Romanian Constitution does not envisage the choosing of the PM based on a coalition result but on a PARTY result. No party has the absolute majority here and the President can and will consult each party separately, designating a PM from the one with the most votes - this has been repudiated by the coalition.

If Basescu refuses to name the current PM, Ponta, he risks yet another procedure of impeachment. That could take a while as, this time, to be absolutely sure of the result, the 4 parties count on modifying the Constitution.
With the country's economy in free fall, European funding (the final safety net) suspended and galloping inflation, it will be a severe winter...'
Indeed, it sure ain't over yet and it looks like a long, difficult winter ahead...