Romania’s ruling coalition trounces opposition in general election

Written by on December 12, 2012 in Europe, News - No comments

Romania’s ruling coalition won convincingly in the parliamentary election held on December 9, final results made public by the country’s electoral authority showed on December 12.

The Social-Liberal Union (USL), a formal coalition of three parties united in their opposition to the country’s president Traian Basescu (despite differing political ideologies), won 58.3 per cent of the vote for the lower house, the chamber of deputies, and 60.1 per cent for the upper house of parliament, the senate.

This will translate to 395 seats in the new legislature, according to the central electoral bureau’s data – 273 in the lower house and 122 in the senate. This number puts USL in a position where it could even amend the constitution without requiring the votes of any other parties.

The Right Romania Alliance (ARD), built around Basescu’s centre-right Democrat-Liberals, which were in power until toppled by a USL-led vote of no confidence in May, suffered a heavy defeat, winning only 16.5 per cent of the vote for the lower house and 16.7 per cent of the vote for the senate, translating into 56 seats and 24 seats in the two chambers, respectively.

A close third was the People’s Party, founded last year by TV presenter Dan Diaconescu, which campaigned on a mixture of nationalist rhetoric with populist (and economically dubious) left-wing proposals. The party swept the protest vote previously associated with the Greater Romania party, which fell on the wayside of parliamentary politics at the 2008 elections and failed to mount a comeback four years later.

The People’s Party won 14 per cent of the vote for the lower house and 16.6 per cent for the senate, translating to 47 seats and 21 seats, respectively. Its leader Diaconescu, however, who opted for an electoral stunt of running directly against prime minister Victor Ponta, the leader of the social-democrat party that is one of the two senior partners in USL, failed to enter parliament.

The Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania won in its usual strongholds where ethnic Hungarians are the majority of the population and will have 27 seats in the new parliament (18 in the lower house and nine in the senate), despite barely clearing the five per cent parliamentary representation threshold.

In total, the new Romanian parliament will have 588 MPs – 412 in the chamber of deputies (a further 18 seats will be taken by representatives of ethnic minorities) and 176 in the senate. The final tally is significantly larger than the number of electoral colleges because of Romania’s complex electoral system, a mixture of first-around-the-post majority and representative distribution based on the parties’ overall results.

(The Parliament Palace, built in the 1980s on the order of communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, has housed the lower house of parliament since 1994 and the senate since 2004. Photo: George M. Groutas/flickr.com)

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