Romanians braved snow and heavy rain yesterday to vote in an election expected to return the government to power, a result that could inflame the personal rivalry between the nation’s top two officials.
Many Romanians are fed up with the power struggle between the two, especially as the country remains one of the poorest and most corrupt in Europe.
Romania is enduring deep austerity cuts in return for a €20m bailout to help its foundering economy.
Prime minister Victor Ponta’s coalition is expected to win a majority, but his battle with president Traian Basescu threatens to throw the country into a political standoff no matter the outcome.
Basescu must nominate the prime minister, and he has indicated he may not appoint Ponta even if his coalition takes the vote. The two have openly battled since Ponta tried and failed to impeach the centre-right Basescu in July.
Basescu has accused Ponta of failing to follow democratic reforms, and has called him “a compulsive liar” who plagiarised his doctoral thesis. Ponta says Basescu is a divisive figure who has overstepped his role by meddling in government business.
Basescu could nominate someone else, but his choice would have to be approved by parliament. If his candidate fails in two rounds of voting, parliament could be dissolved.
As he voted, Basescu again accused the government of failing to devote itself to democratic reforms. Ponta said he remains committed to leading Romania to a better future.
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