Romanian president weighs options for PM after vote

Mon Dec 10, 2012 3:00pm EST
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By Luiza Ilie and Ioana Patran

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romanian President Traian Basescu weighed his options for a new prime minister on Monday and could seek to split his rival Victor Ponta's leftist alliance, even though it scored a resounding electoral victory.

Ponta's Social Liberal Union (USL) won up to 60 percent of votes in Sunday's parliamentary election, results showed. The electoral system could give it an even bigger share of seats in the Balkan country's parliament, putting Ponta in a strong position in a power struggle with the right-wing Basescu.

Basescu had said he would not ask Ponta to be prime minister again after the USL failed to impeach him in July. While he has since softened his tone, he could try to split the USL by naming someone else from the alliance of leftists and liberals.

Any uncertainty over a new government would delay talks over a new deal with the International Monetary Fund to replace a 5- billion-euro ($6.5-billion) agreement expiring in early 2013.

The leu currency and Bucharest stocks were a touch lower and bond yields rose slightly, but dealers said they may rally if a new government is in place quickly.

"We may expect any surprise coming from President Traian Basescu in nominating the next prime minister. It may not be Mr. Ponta, but definitely Basescu would have no choice but appoint someone from inside the USL," said Adrian Basaraba, politics professor at the University of Timisoara.

On many indicators, Romania trails other ex-communist neighbors like Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic.

Corruption is rife, its roads and rail are outdated and it cannot provide reliable basic services such as running water and electricity to all its 19 million people nearly a quarter of a century after the fall of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in 1989.   Continued...

Crin Antonescu, one of Romania's Social Liberal Union (USL) leaders and president of National Liberal Party, gestures after first exit polls for parliamentary elections in Bucharest December 9, 2012. Exit polls showed Romania's prime minister won a clear victory in a Sunday election, which may herald another round of a power struggle with the rightist president and complicate talks for a new IMF deal. Victor Ponta's leftist Social Liberal Union won 54-58 percent of votes according to three exit polls and is headed for a majority, but analysts said President Traian Basescu may ask someone else from the USL to form a government. REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel