Prime Minister accepts poll defeat

Romanian Prime Minister, Adrian Nastase, has admitted defeat in the country’s tightly fought presidential election. With almost all the votes counted from the run-off poll, centre right opposition candidate, Traian Basescu, had a decisive lead over Nastase. As President he will take Romania into the European Union in 2007 and face the tough task of speeding up reforms necessary for EU membership. However, Basescu has said membership in 2007 is not guaranteed and is proof of the present government’s failure to implement the reforms.

Nastase won the first round back on November 28 with 41 per cent compared to Basescu’s 34 per cent. At the weekend, the opposition camp was already sensing victory, as their supporters spilled out onto the capital’s streets.

Although presidential powers in Romania are limited, the head of state will play a pivotal role in the hung parliament that emerged after elections two weeks ago. Nastase’s Social Democrats won 189 of the 469 seats, while Basescu’s Justice and Truth Alliance won 161. It is up to the president to nominate the next prime minister. Basescu has said he will propose his political running mate, Calin Tariceanu, for the job and has promised a different style of leadership to that of Nastase, which, he says, will focus more on fighting corruption.