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Dec 06, 2009 21:23 EEST
BUCHAREST (Romania), December 6 (SeeNews) – Social Democrats' leader Mircea Geoana has won Romania’s run-off presidential vote on Sunday, leading with less than two percent ahead of incumbent Traian Basescu, an exit poll indicated.
Geoana has won 50.8% of the vote, while Basescu, the informal leader of ruling Democratic-Liberal Party, PD-L, got 49.2% support, an exit poll conducted by local polling agency CURS showed.
The vote is crucial for EU member Romania, as the winner will name the country's next prime minister who will have to restart key reforms of the economy and the justice system in order to win back the trust of international lenders, a key condition for the release of the next installments of a 20-billion euro bailout package led by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Romania needs to pass a 2010 budget as soon as possible to avoid sharper economic contraction and deepening of the crisis, analysts say. Under the IMF deal the country must cut budget spending and narrow the fiscal gap to 5.9% of GDP in 2010 from 7.3% this year.
Analysts have said Basescu would be more likely to pursue IMF-prescribed reforms and the fight against graft, but Geoana's victory would bring political stability since he enjoys a majority in Parliament after making alliances with several opposition parties.
Geoana supports IMF-mandated reforms, but opposes massive lay-offs in the public sector.
Basescu has called for reforms in the public sector, including cuts in special pensions of former public officials and less benefits for members of parliament. He supports plans to freeze state wages.
The Central Electoral Bureau said that voter turnout was 53.51% by 7 p.m local time (1700 GMT), two hours before polls closed. Voter turnout in the first round was 54.37%.
Voting started at 7 a.m. local time (0500 GMT) and lasted until 9 p.m. (1900 GMT). Some 18.3 million voters were eligible to cast their ballots.
Basescu came first in the first round on November 22, winning one third of the votes, slightly ahead of Geoana. After the first round Geoana got the support of the Liberal Party and the Hungarian minority party UDMR, while Basescu announced he would seek no political alliance before the run-off vote. The Liberals, Social Democrats and ethnic Hungarians together control two-thirds of the 471 seats in parliament and oppose the PD-L.
Romania's president must abandon any political affiliation upon taking the oath of office and has fewer executive functions than the prime minister. The president is Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, appoints the ambassadors and the heads of security agencies.
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