Cablegate: Romania: 11/22 Presidential Election: As Expected,

DE RUEHBM #0783 3271326
R 231326Z NOV 09





E.O. 12958: N/A

SUBJECT: Romania: 11/22 Presidential Election: As Expected,
Basescu and Geoana to Face Off

1. (SBU) Summary. With approximately 75 percent of ballots counted
from the November 22 presidential election, incumbent Traian Basescu
(32.8 percent) and Social Democrat (PSD) Mircea Geoana (29.8
percent) seem certain as expected to advance to the December 6
presidential runoff. Third place finisher Crin Antonescu of the
National Liberal party (PNL) (20.4 percent) claimed pollsters
tampered with exit poll data. Preliminary returns for the
non-binding referendum on a unicameral parliament showed 77 percent
in favor. Turnout for the election and referendum was over 50
percent. The battle will now focus on wooing the PNL electorate,
ethnic Hungarian voters, and the far Right. End Summary.


2. (SBU) The Central Election Bureau (BEC) released results early on
November 23 based on 74 percent of precincts reporting: Basescu 32.8
percent, Geoana 29.8 percent, Antonescu 20.4, Vadim Tudor (Greater
Romania Party - PRM) 5.4, Kelemen Hunor (Democratic Union of
Hungarians in Romania - UDMR) 4.4, Sorin Oprescu (independent) 3.3,
Gigi Becali (New Generation Party - PNG) 1.8, and five other
independent candidates with less than one percent each. Voter
turnout thus far was 53.8 percent. As no candidate received 50
percent of eligible voters, the top two finishers - almost certainly
Basescu and Geoana - will advance to the December 6 runoff.


3. (SBU) Basescu thanked both his supporters and those who did not
vote for him, saying "To the latter, I got their message." Geoana
thanked his supporters and those who voted for Antonescu, "who ran a
beautiful campaign." Antonescu claimed pollsters manipulated the
data and that a major media conglomerate published on its website
the news that Basescu and Geoana made the runoff two hours before
polls closed.


4. (SBU) Voters also were asked to cast a separate ballot for a
non-binding referendum to abolish the Senate and reduce the number
of mps from 471 to 300. BEC's results, based on less than half of
total returns, show 77.4 percent approving a unicameral Parliament,
with 88.9 percent of ballots approving a reduction in the number of
mps. With just over 50 percent turnout, the referendum has passed.
President Basescu, who pushed referendum to tap into voter
discontent with politicians, welcomed the outcome and called on
Parliament to act on the will of the people.


5. (SBU) The national police reported on election night that it had
recorded 945 electoral complaints throughout the country, 51 of
which made criminal allegations. Many of these violations involved
attempted vote buying, whether with cash, food or blankets. The
police spokesman noted that there were fewer complaints than during
the June 2009 European Parliamentary elections, when voter turnout
was lower.

6. (SBU) COMMENT. The first-round results were no surprise. Basescu
and Geoana relied on large party machines and performed better in
the countryside than Antonescu, who appeals more to the urban
electorate. Of note were the poor performances of Bucharest Mayor
Sorin Oprescu - whose candidacy many pundits heralded as a
"game-changer" - and the UDMR's Kelemen, who received only two
thirds of the votes expected. Antonescu will be hard-pressed to
prove his charges of manipulation. Whatever shenanigans occurred
were probably minor and committed by all three major parties, and
therefore unlikely to affect the outcome. The real battle now
begins as Basescu and Geoana, neck-and-neck, spend the next two
weeks aggressively courting the 38 percent of voters up for grabs.


© Scoop Media

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