Romania’s government swept to victory in parliamentary elections, near final results showed today, but it was uncertain whether the convincing win would bring stability and defuse a rancorous political rivalry between the country’s top two leaders.
The centre—left alliance led by Prime Minister Victor Ponta won nearly three-fifths of the seats in the legislature, trouncing President Traian Basescu’s allies, with 95 per cent of the vote counted.
Many Romanians are fed up with a power struggle between Basescu and Ponta and are desperate for political calm after a year of upheaval.
The country has run through three prime ministers and Cabinets this year and endured huge protests against austerity measures imposed in return for a $26 million bailout to help its foundering economy.
Continued political feuding could harm Romania’s reputation as a functioning democracy abroad and create an atmosphere of instability that would deter much needed foreign investment.
“We won a clear majority, a majority recognised by our adversaries who have to accept the rules of democracy,” Ponta said after polls closed on Sunday.
“I assure them we will treat the Opposition with the respect that we did not get when we were in Opposition.”
Ponta attempted unsuccessfully to impeach Basescu this year, describing him as a divisive figure who has overstepped his role as president by meddling in government business, and earning criticism by the European Union and Washington for failing to respect the rule of law.
In return, Basescu has threatened to wield his power to appoint the prime minister which theoretically is a formality by withholding his blessing.
However, it looked unlikely today that Basescu had the political capital to stick to his threat, given the strong victory by his rival’s alliance.
Basescu could nominate someone else, but his choice would have to be approved by Parliament. If his candidature was rejected, Parliament could be dissolved and new elections called.
The government has threatened to move to impeach Basescu again if he refuses to nominate Ponta.