Returns from Romania’s parliamentary elections on Monday gave an overwhelming victory to the center-left alliance of Prime Minister Victor Ponta, leaving the country poised for Round 2 of a political standoff that has destabilized one of the European Union’s newest and poorest members. The governing alliance won about 59 percent of the vote in in Sunday’s elections, making Mr. Ponta the leading contender to return to the job. With almost all of the votes counted, a center-right group linked to President Traian Basescu had received just 16.5 percent of the vote. The two men cannot stand even to be in the same room with each other, according to aides, and their acrimony has poisoned Romania’s politics since Mr. Ponta pressed to have the president removed from office last summer.
But it is Mr. Basescu who has the power to appoint a prime minister. Not one to mince words, Mr. Basescu has said that having to name Mr. Ponta would be like having to swallow a pig. The question now is: Will Mr. Basescu hold his nose and do it?
Mr. Ponta said late Sunday that he hoped the elections would end Romania’s political “civil war.” But on Monday, Mr. Ponta’s allies warned that if Mr. Basescu followed through on his threat to bypass the prime minister, he would face impeachment again.
“Mr. Basescu cannot ignore what the Romanian people want,” Catalin Ivan, a spokesman for Mr. Ponta’s coalition, the Social Liberal Union, said in a telephone interview.
The standoff may portend even greater instability for Romania. Mr. Basescu’s behavior, Mr. Ivan said, shows that the political system needs an overhaul.