Romania - president

Tue 21 Dec 2004

In the run-off of the presidential elections on 12 December, Democracic Party leader Traian Basescu took 51.23% of the vote compared with 48.77% for Adrian Nastase from the Social Democratic Party (PSD). Basescu took office on Monday, 20 December.

Outgoing Prime Minister Nastase said on 16 December that President-elect Basescu must respect the decision of the electorate and appoint a prime minister from among the parties that are capable of securing a majority in the legislature. He said it would be "irresponsible" for Basescu to designate a prime minister from other political formations. Nastase warned that if Basescu ignores that advice, the Social Democrats might boycott the parliamentary debate on a vote of confidence. This would deny the legislature a quorum and lead to a constitutional crisis, Nastase warned.

President-elect Basescu responded to Nastase's warning by saying no constitutional crisis would arose as long as the constitution is strictly adhered to. Basescu argued that the PNL-Democratic Party alliance ran in the 28 November elections as a "political alliance" and thus has the largest caucus in parliament, comprising 161 deputies and senators. The Social Democrats and the Humanist Party (PUR) ran as an "electoral alliance" and therefore consists of two parliamentary groups, he added #159 Social Democratic lawmakers and 30 PUR lawmakers. Basescu said it would be correct to talk about a constitutional crisis only if the will of the people is not respected. The crisis to which Nastase referred, Basescu charged, "is a crisis of the Social Democratic Party, which fears a loss of power."

President-elect Basescu quit the Democratic Party on 18 December to comply with provisions on ensuring a nonpartisan president. Basescu, who had served as party chairman since 2001, designated Executive Chairman Emil Boc as his successor until May, when a national convention is expected to pick a new leader. Basescu told a meeting of the Democratic Party's leadership that it should impose a moratorium on the admission of new members for six months to avoid opportunists joining the party in the wake of its electoral success. Basescu also said he intends to quit politics after serving as president, adding that no one should safeguard his place in the Democratic Party. "I intended to withdraw [from the chairmanship] in 2005, but the people willed that I do it earlier," Outgoing President Iliescu is slated to return to head the Social Democratic Party (PSD).

The Democratic National Bloc (BND) signed an agreement on 19 December on extending parliamentary support to a cabinet formed by the National Liberal Party (PNL)-Democratic Party alliance. The BND had said earlier the same day that it would have its own caucuses in both houses of parliament #independent of the parliamentary groups of the Greater Romania Party (PRM), on whose lists it ran in the 28 November national elections. Five BND deputies and senators were elected on those lists. A BND spokesman said the new parliamentary groups will be joined by lawmakers from the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the Humanist Party (PUR), who fielded a joint list ahead of the 28 November elections. Meanwhile, the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) decided on 18 December to continue talks with the PNL-Democratic Party alliance on participating in a possible government. UDMR Chairman Bela Marko said that outgoing President Iliescu's planned pardon of jailed activist Miron Cozma "created a situation in which the UDMR in the same boat" with the Social Democratic Party.

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