Romania’s centre-right president faces a tough second round run off vote to keep his job after failing to win Sunday’s election outright.
Exit polls suggest the incumbent, Traian Basescu, is the leading candidate with between 33 percent and 34 percent of the vote in the first round. He needed 50 percent to win outright. The ballot is crucial to the country’s efforts to escape from a political and economic crisis. When the centre-left government collapsed in October, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) delayed part of a 20-billion euro loan meant to revive the country’s battered economy. Basescu told supporters at a rally in Bucharest: “Romania has an urgent need for a government. At the same time I want to reassure Romanians: as I have always done I will not make any ‘under the table’ negotiations that might question my mandate as president 2009 to 2014.” Basescu’s left-wing rival Mircea Geoana only trails by two or three percentage points according to exit polls and the race is well and truly on ahead of the run-off vote on December 6. “From tomorrow the competition starts from zero,” Geoana told a rally on Sunday night. “I’m asking you to remain vigilant and I’m asking Romanians who are still undecided to join us.” The stakes are high: the winner will nominate a prime minister and seek to form a government whose task will be to push through tough fiscal reforms that will be necessary for Romania to win back the trust and the money of the IMF.