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.
The campaign itself centered around the personal conflict between Socialist Prime Minister Victor Ponta and President Basescu (Liberal Democrat Party), and very little on the issues of austerity, fiscal reform, the role of the Anti-Corruption court, and the relations between the three branches of government. As is often the case in some of the successor states to the Soviet Bloc, politics have returned to a struggle between political clans or alliances gaining control and not about responding to the larger needs of the population.
The December elections confirmed the sentiments expressed in the July vote. President Basescu, elected in 2004, lost his popular support in 2010 for reasons ranging from his vulgar and brutal behavior to the austerity policies he agreed to impose after accepting aid from the IMF and EU. Despite bad weather conditions, 41.7 percent of the eligible voters showed up at the polls, a higher number than in the 2008 elections – although there were not enough votes to validate local referenda dealing with very important questions such as shale gas and gold mining.
Full Article: The December elections in Romania | openDemocracy.