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Cablegate: Romanian Elections: Basescu Widens Lead After Partial

VZCZCXYZ0008
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBM #0832 3481433
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 141433Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 0161

UNCLAS BUCHAREST 000832

DEPT FOR EUR/CE ASCHEIBE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV RO

SUBJECT: Romanian Elections: Basescu Widens Lead After Partial
Recount

REF: BUCHAREST 824 AND PREVIOS

1. (U) Summary. After a recount of all voided ballots, incumbent
President Traian Basescu slightly widened his lead over Social
Democrat (PSD) candidate Mircea Geoana by an additional 273 votes.
On December 14 the electoral commission (BEC) submitted its report
to the Constitutional Court, which is expected to validate the final
result in the coming days. End Summary.

2. (U) The BEC finished December 14 its recount of the approximately
140,000 ballots that were declared invalid during the December 6
presidential runoff, a recount which the Constitutional Court had
mandated December 11 following a complaint filed by Geoana and the
PSD party. A total of 2,247 ballots were reinstated, of which 1,260
were cast for Basescu and 987 for Geoana. A BEC spokesman
attributed the ultimately incorrect invalidation of these votes to
the weariness of vote counters on a particularly long election
night. The BEC submitted its report, including the revised final
election results incorporating the recounted ballots, to the
Constitutional Court for validation.

3. (U) In an interview over the weekend, Geoana said he would pursue
fraud allegations all the way to the European Court of Human Rights
(ECHR) if necessary. He stated that the PSD challenge to the
Constitutional Court included five requests, only one of which was
the recount of invalidated ballots. (Note: Neither PSD nor the
court has revealed the contents of the written challenge. End Note.)
The PSD is now calling for review of the signatures of voters'
affidavits that they voted only once. Geoana claimed that he hoped
to see the process completed by December 21, though he did not
explain how this could be accomplished while appealing to the ECHR.

4. (U) Comment: The recount result came as no surprise. The
nine-member Constitutional Court reportedly was split four to four
last week over whether or not to validate the elections outright,
with one abstention. The results of this latest recount will likely
tip the balance in favor of validation, absent an unexpected
revelation of proven systematic fraud. It is also worth noting that
every day another senior PSD leader seems to abandon Geoana's
campaign to overturn the election results. The Court is expected
to rule within the next several days, and the present odds are in
favor of validation of Basescu's victory. End Comment.

GITENSTEIN

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