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2008 Parliamentary Election

A mentality change was brought about by the uninominal vote. For the first time after 1989, the Romanian citizens stopped voting for party lists in the general elections, but voted for individual candidates. Obviously, these candidates were proposed by their parties in the uninominal colleges in which they aspired.

From 2007 until December 2008, former Prime Minister Tariceanu's PNL party ran an ultra-minority government in coalition with the UDMR and tacit support of the PSD. Following parliamentary elections on November 30, 2008, in which the PD-L and PSD parties virtually tied, a majority PD-L-PSD coalition led by PD-L Prime Minister Emil Boc had governed.

In the elections held in November 2008, the Democratic Liberal Party (PDL) won 115 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 51 in the Senate, an alliance between the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the Conservative Party (PC) 114 and 49, the National Liberal Party (PNL) 65 and 28, respectively. The Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR) obtained 22 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 9 in the Senate, while 18 representatives of other national minorities formed a Parliamentary Group of National Minorities in the lower house.

The political system in Romania developed into a new bipolar model based on two big parties: the Democrat Liberal Party and the Social Democrat Party. The year 2008 brought a leveling of the forces, with respect to the territorial structures, between Social Democrat Party and Democrat- Liberal Party (after the local elections). The November 2008 elections resulted in a virtual tie between the center-right PD-L and the center-left PSD parties, with each holding between 34%-37% of the seats in each chamber. The ruling center-right PNL party finished a distant third, and PNL Prime Minister Calin Tariceanu resigned. After intense negotiations among various configurations of the PD-L, PSD, and PNL, a majority PD-L-PSD coalition government was formed in December 2008 with Emil Boc as new Prime Minister. Among the new government's top priorities was addressing the effects of global economic turmoil on Romania's economic development, and coping with significant fiscal challenges facing the Romanian Government's budget.

Cluj Mayor Emil Boc was the best-known PD politician after President-elect Basescu. Boc is a canny politician, respected attorney and political science professor who helped establish the Political Science and Public Administration Department at Babes Bolyai University in Cluj. Never one to skirt controversy, Boc is known for his outspokenness but leavens his idealism with pragmatism. Boc's public performance can be uncontrollably garrulous, even erratic, leading one Cluj resident to remark that on occasion "he speaks too fast, too long and too loud." In the June 2004 municipal elections, Boc defeated both the incumbent mayor, a notoriously xenophobic member of Corneliu Vadim Tudor,s extreme nationalist Greater Romania Party (PRM), and the popular ex-PSD Interior Minister Ion Rus. As a parliamentarian, Boc was a moving force behind drafting Romania's revised Constitution in 2003 and anti-corruption legislation.

The 2008 elections that brought Boc in with the Democratic-Liberal Party (PD-L) and Social Democratic Party (PSD) coalition shifted the deck-chairs, but the direction is the same. The replacement of Tariceanu by the low-key Emil Boc gives former ship captain President Basescu greater leeway at the helm of foreign affairs and national security policy.

Through support of or participation in consecutive government coalitions, the UDMR ensured the continuing influence of the ethnic Hungarian minority in national government. However, the UDMR is not a member of the current coalition government. Consecutive governments have sought to improve the socio-economic situation of the Roma minority, which continues to suffer from severe poverty in many areas and discrimination. Although according to government statistics Roma officially represent 2.5% of the population, Romani organizations claim the percentage is actually several percentage points higher.

A coalition of center-left and center-right parties in parliament brought down center-right Prime Minister Emil Boc in October 2009, leaving Romania without a functioning government. Basescu's Democrat-Liberal Party and Geoana's Social Democrats were unwilling to work together, putting on hold a 20 billion euro IMF aid package and damaging investor confidence.

Romanias President Traian Basescu won reelection by a very narrow margin -- less than 1 percentage point -- in a fiercely contested second round against leftist opponent Mircea Geoana. Public television chose largely to ignore Basescus campaign, while giving extensive coverage to Geoana. Basescus main target during the campaign was a group of what he sees as corrupt oligarchs and media moguls who control large swathes of Romanias economy. The Central Election Bureau said that final results from the 06 December 2009 poll show that center-right Basescu had 50.3 percent of ballots cast, while Geoana, a Social Democrat and former foreign minister, had 49.6 percent. The final result of the race -- the hardest-fought in postcommunist Romania -- was influenced decisively by the Romanian diaspora and by Moldovans holding Romanian passports, who voted overwhelmingly for Basescu. Basescus hard-fought victory ended a turbulent two-month period in Romanian politics that brought the country to a virtual standstill.

By May 2010 the main opposition Social-Democrat Party (PSD) and National Liberal Party (PNL) were trying to overcome doctrinal differences in order to back a no-confidence vote against the government and the planned austerity measures that the executive wanted to push through Parliament. The no-confidence vote would be filed by the PSD-Conservative Party Alliance and supported by PNL lawmakers, even if the text attacked economic measures that the Liberals sympathise with, such as the flat tax.

There have been many political factions, but few were relevant in the view of the voters. What came as a vexed question for today's electorate, with regard to the development of the political parties in Romania, was that, after two decades, they has not managed to assert themselves with a certain political ideology, but rather through some representative marketing vectors, or, in other words, through some personalities of the respective parties.



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