A senior Romanian minister was convicted on Friday of electoral fraud over a 2012 attempt to impeach a president and political rival, a judgment that dealt a blow to Prime Minister Victor Ponta’s efforts to demonstrate to the EU a hard line on graft. Regional development minister Liviu Dragnea was convicted of masterminding a campaign to use bribes and forged ballot papers to swing an impeachment vote against then president Traian Basescu, arch rival of Ponta’s ruling Social Democrats. The court gave Dragnea, a powerful figure in Romanian politics, a one year suspended jail sentence, which spares him prison. He will, however, be banned from holding public office. The decision can be appealed.Full Article: Romanian minister found guilty of vote-rigging in referendum | Daily Mail Online.
Romania’s foreign minister resigned Tuesday, after barely a week in office, after thousands of citizens overseas were unable to vote in this weekend’s presidential elections. Teodor Melescanu stepped down following the weekend’s runoff vote. His predecessor resigned last week after similar problems with the first-round vote. Images have poured in of Romanians standing in snaking lines to vote all over Europe. Anger at the problems contributed to the surprise victory of Klaus Iohannis over Prime Minister Victor Ponta. Reacting to public anger, Parliament’s lower chamber on Tuesday scrapped a controversial draft amnesty law that would have freed politicians and other officials serving prison sentences for corruption.Full Article: BUCHAREST, Romania: Romania: minister resigns over expat vote fiasco | World | MyrtleBeachOnline.com.
The unexpected victory of the opposition candidate Klaus Johannis in Romania’s presidential election yesterday is an important development — not just for Romania, but for the European Union as a whole. Migration within the union, which has led to the rise of anti-EU political groups in some wealthier nations, including the U.K., is paying off: It is helping nations on the periphery such as Romania adopt the best practices of the older, core democracies. In the first round of the vote, Prime Minister Victor Ponta beat Johannis, the center-right mayor of the Transylvanian town of Sibiu. Johannis, an ethic German, didn’t appear likely to prevail in the run-off. He is Lutheran, and not Orthodox Christian like most Romanians, and he ran a rather boring campaign. The election, however, was marred by complaints from Romanians abroad who had trouble casting their ballots. There were long lines at polling stations in Italy and Spain, where Romanians are the biggest immigrant group, as well as in France and the U.K., which also have large Romanian populations.Full Article: Romania's Election Surprise Came From Abroad - Bloomberg View.
A center-right mayor scored an upset victory Sunday in Romania’s presidential runoff after the prime minister’s early lead evaporated in the wake of public anger over a marred first round of voting. Prime Minister Victor Ponta, a Social Democrat, conceded defeat to Klaus Iohannis, a former physics teacher turned politician who campaigned on strengthening the justice system and reducing the role of the state in the economy, which grew dramatically under Mr. Ponta. State debt has risen to about 40% of gross domestic product from 19% in 2009. During that time, economic growth has averaged about 1% annually.Full Article: Center-Right Mayor Scores Upset Win in Romania’s Presidential Runoff - WSJ - WSJ.
Romania’s presidential runoff sees Prime Minister Victor Ponta facing off against Klaus Iohannis, the ethnic German mayor of the Transylvanian city of Sibiu. Ponta, a former prosecutor, led Iohannis by 10 points in the first-round voting on Nov. 2, and polls indicate Ponta is likely to win, despite corruption probes and convictions of some of Ponta’s senior aides. Here is a brief rundown of the people and issues involved in Sunday’s vote. “Pugnacious” Ponta, 42, became Europe’s youngest prime minister in May 2012 just before he turned 40. An amateur rally driver, Ponta married Daciana Sarbu in 2007. She’s a European Parliament lawmaker and the daughter of a bigwig in the powerful Social Democratic Party. Ponta’s career has mostly been plain sailing since then, even though he’s been accused of plagiarizing his doctoral thesis and of being an undercover spy by outgoing President Traian Basescu — allegations he denies. Since taking office Ponta has overseen economic growth and political stability. He says Romania will remain a U.S. ally and rejects claims he’ll cozy up to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Critics say that as president Ponta could grant an amnesty to political allies imprisoned for corruption, and that his party would have far too much power.Full Article: Romanian PM takes on mayor in presidential runoff - The Washington Post.
For Luciana Bizgan, Romania’s presidential race could mean she’ll never again turn up for work wearing rubber boots. Across the nation of 20 million, the second-most populous of the European Union’s newer members, Romanians are witnessing Prime Minister Victor Ponta’s bid for president triggering a spending glut on streets, schools and churches. Bizgan, 36, a seamstress, wants her dirt road in the southern town of Turnu Magurele asphalted so rain doesn’t dictate her footwear. “I just hope this time it’s my street’s turn,” she said. The EU’s second-poorest member, whose post-communist transformation has pushed bond yields to record lows, is loosening the purse strings a year after exiting monitoring by the bloc for fiscal slackness. Next year’s budget shortfall may balloon to double the government target, leaving a headache for Ponta’s successor, should the prime minister turn his poll lead into victory in a Nov. 16 runoff.Full Article: No More Rubber Boots as Romania Vote Splurge Tests Budget - Bloomberg.
Romanian Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean resigned on Monday after thousands of people rallied at the weekend in support of compatriots abroad who were turned away as they tried to vote in the first round of a presidential election. Corlatean had been told by leftist Prime Minister Victor Ponta to ensure the Nov. 16 runoff vote ran smoothly or risk losing his job after Romanians living abroad complained of long queues at embassy polling stations and shortages of a form that had to be signed before a ballot could be cast in the Nov. 2 vote. Ponta won the first round of the election by a 10 percentage point margin over Klaus Iohannis, an ethnic German mayor backed by two center-right opposition parties. Ponta is likely to win the runoff vote, opinion polls showed. On Saturday, as thousands of people rallied in cities across Romania, Corlatean said there would be no increase in the number of polling stations abroad. Some protesters called on Ponta to resign, saying he had failed to ensure all citizens could exercise their right to vote.Full Article: Romanian foreign minister resigns in election row | Reuters.
As the first round of the Romanian presidential election has passed, many legal irregularities and troublesome voting procedures cast uncertainty over the second round. Euractiv.ro reports. The two candidates that have moved on into the second round of the Romanian presidential election are Victor Ponta (PSD) and Klaus Iohannis (ACL). The latest partial results presented by the Central Electoral Office show Ponta with 40.33% of the number of valid votes and Iohannis with 30.44%. Although Ponta is leading by 10%, nothing is certain for the second round. An important element that stands to influence the second round is represented by the actions of the former candidates. Combined, all the other 12 candidates have gained almost 30% of the votes, half of which were cast for the first three, including Călin Popescu Tăriceanu (independent, a former liberal Prime Minister), Elena Udrea (PMP, a former Liberal Democrat Minister of Development) and Monica Macovei (independent, currently a member of the European Parliament).Full Article: Irregularities cloud Romanian election runoff | EurActiv.
The ruling socialists’ approach has paid off for the time being. Their candidate, incumbent Prime Minister Victor Ponta, won the first round of voting. Whether his roughly ten percent head start will be enough for the second round is doubtful, however. Klaus Johannis, the ethnic German candidate for the liberal alliance, has a real chance of moving into the presidential palace, and not just in numbers. What matters now is who gets the votes of the 12 candidates from the first round. It’s just as crucial whether the largest political group – the non-voters – will exercise their democratic right in two weeks’ time. For the first round, about half of Romania’s eligible voters chose to stay at home. Just like five years ago, it might be expatriate Romanians yet again who end up tipping the scales. In 2009, a clear majority voted for outgoing President Traian Basescu – to the great chagrin of the Socialists, who cried election fraud. This time, however, the Socialist government appears to have made sure that situation won’t be repeated. After hours of standing in line, thousands of Romanians hoping to cast their ballot in West Europe had to return home without having voted. Not enough polling stations had been set up for the estimated two to three million Romanians who live and work abroad. Disastrous planning permitted voting at nothing but a snail’s pace. When the polling stations closed right on schedule, many thousands still waiting to vote were turned away. In a European democracy, that’s not what fair elections look like.Full Article: Opinion: Preventing votes, Romanian-style | Europe | DW.DE | 03.11.2014.
Romania’s presidential election is set to enter a run-off after exit polls suggested no candidate had won an overall majority. Initial polling data indicated that current PM Victor Ponta has topped the poll with 38-40% of the vote. His main challenger, Klaus Iohannis, is said to be trailing him on about 32%. Romanians are voting to decide who will replace President Traian Basescu, who is stepping down after serving his two-term limit. The election in the ex-communist nation has occasionally been marred by bitter recriminations. Mr Ponta, a social democrat, often feuded with centre-right President Basescu, who he served under for two years while premier.Full Article: BBC News - Romanian presidential election set to enter run-off.
Romanians will head to polling stations on November 2 to elect a new president, with incumbent Traian Basescu stepping down after serving the maximum two terms allowed by law. The field to replace Basescu features 14 candidates, but only two are seen as realistic challengers – prime minister Victor Ponta, leader of the Social-Democrat party, and the mayor of Sibiu Klaus Iohannis, leader of the National-Liberal party. Ponta is seen as the favourite, with various opinion polls giving him between 38 per cent and 43 per cent support, while Iohannis ranked second with support between 30 per cent and 33 per cent. All other candidates were polling in the single-digit range. In the likely scenario that no candidate wins the presidency in the first round of voting, a run-off would be held on November 16. A win by Ponta would consolidate the Social-Democrats’ hold on government and bring a degree of stability after a decade marked by repeated conflicts between the presidency and parliament during Basescu’s two terms in office.Full Article: Romania votes to elect new president on November 2 | The Sofia Globe.
Romanians are likely to move Prime Minister Victor Ponta into the presidency in elections that start on Sunday, offering one of Europe’s poorest countries political stability but raising concerns about judicial independence. Backed by a well-oiled party machine, Ponta has led opinion polls in the run-up to the Nov. 2/16 vote, trumpeting a record of easing the painful spending cuts and tax hikes Romanians endured in a 2009-10 recession. A Ponta win would consolidate his leftist Social Democrats’ hold on power. His combative rival, incumbent President Traian Basescu, steps down after two terms, which should end constant feuds over policy.Full Article: Romania's Ponta heads for presidency with justice in spotlight | Reuters.
After the controversial and pressure-filled referendum to oust President Traian Basescu in July 2012, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the OSCE carried out a “Needs Assessment Mission Report” and issued its findings on the upcoming “Romanian Parliamentary Elections 9 December 2012” in Warsaw on 18 October. The OSCE concluded from its research that “While the mission would visit a limited number of polling stations on election day, systematic observation of voting, counting, or tabulation of results on election day is not envisaged.” The 9 December parliamentary elections in Romania, in fact, seemed not to have been as shot through with fraudulent practices as those in July. After the elections took place, there were very few protests about abuses at the polling places.Full Article: The December elections in Romania | openDemocracy.
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.Full Article: Romania Faces Upheaval as Center-Left Wins Vote - NYTimes.com.
Romania’s Constitutional Court on Tuesday struck down a referendum to impeach President Traian Basescu, foiling a drive by the leftist government to oust its chief political opponent months before a parliamentary election. The government said it would accept the decision, but the acting president said Basescu was now an “illegitimate” leader. Several hundred people gathered in two main Bucharest squares in the afternoon, one crowd supporting the president and the other protesting against him. Both remained peaceful.Full Article: Romanian court: reinstate president, referendum invalid | Reuters.
Romanian President Traian Basescu appears to have survived a referendum on his impeachment. As polls closed, preliminary figures indicated turnout was less than the 50% required to make the result invalid. Basescu, who has been suspended by parliament, had asked his supporters to boycott the vote.The center-left government had accused the center-right president of exceeding his authority and of meddling in government affairs. Polling stations closed at 23:00 local time (20:00GMT). First results are expected on Monday. Three hours before the polls were due to close, the election bureau said turnout so far had been 37.7%, the BBC reported. Initial polls put the turnout at about 44%. As voting ended, Basescu said that Romanians had “rejected a coup” by staying away from polling stations.Full Article: Romanian President Basescu Survives Impeachment Referendum, 30 July 2012 Monday 9:25.