Romania gov't easily wins parliamentary elections
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romania's government has swept to victory in a parliamentary election but even that convincing win may not defuse the rancorous rivalry between the country's two top politicians.
The center-left alliance led by Prime Minister Victor Ponta won nearly 60 percent of the vote, trouncing President Traian Basescu's center-right allies, with 95 percent of the vote counted Monday.
Many Romanians are fed up with a power struggle between Basescu and Ponta and are desperate for political stability after a year of upheaval. The financially struggling Balkan nation has run through three prime ministers and Cabinets this year and endured huge protests against the austerity measures that have been imposed in return for a €20 billion ($26 billion) bailout.
Continued political feuding could create a lasting atmosphere of instability that would deter much-needed foreign investment.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which monitored the vote, said "the election campaign was largely overshadowed by the power struggle" between Basescu and Ponta.
"The continuation of a highly-charged political atmosphere, with sharp rhetoric and reported pressure on authorities undermined confidence but did not challenge the overall conduct" of the vote, it said in a statement.
"We won a clear majority, a majority recognized by our adversaries, who have to accept the rules of democracy," Ponta said after the polls closed Sunday. "I assure them we will treat the opposition with the respect that we did not get when we were in opposition."
His group is expected to get about 270 seats in the 452-seat Parliament.
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. The Romanian government was criticized by the European Union and Washington for failing to respect the rule of law in the way it conducted the impeachment process.
In return, Basescu has threatened to withhold his blessing for Ponta, a presidential act that is usually a formality. However, it looked unlikely Monday that Basescu had the political capital to stick to his threat.
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