04BUCHAREST3421 / 2004-12-13 12:45:00
Embassy Bucharest
                C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BUCHAREST 003421 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/NCE - WILLIAM SILKWORTH 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/13/2014 
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PHUM, KDEM, SOCI, ECON, RO 
SUBJECT: CENTER-RIGHT CANDIDATE TRAIAN BASESCU WINS 
PRESIDENTIAL RUN-OFF IN SURPRISE UPSET; NASTASE CONCEDES 
 
REF: BUCHAREST 3416 (AND PREVIOUS) 
 
Classified By: Political Section Chief Robert S. Gilchrist for Reasons 
1.4 B and D 
 
1. (C) Summary:  Center-right National Liberal-Democratic 
(PNL-PD) alliance candidate Traian Basescu has won Romania's 
presidency, according to official results released early 
afternoon December 13.  PNL-PD leaders tell post that the 
alliance is still absorbing the surprise win, but will soon 
begin efforts to form a parliamentary coalition.  Cheering 
supporters crowded Bucharest's University Square late 
December 12 and early hours the next day to hear Basescu 
predict a clear victory; similar spontaneous rallies took 
place in other cities.  Throughout the campaign, Basescu 
advocated strong trans-Atlantic relations.  His alliance has 
promised to combat corruption and to undertake more rapid 
economic and political reform. Post has begun hearing names 
of potential cabinet members, but much remains in the sphere 
of speculation.  End Summary. 
 
2. (SBU) Defying predictions in the media and by political 
insiders from all political persuasions, center-right 
National Liberal-Democratic (PNL-PD) alliance candidate and 
Bucharest Mayor Traian Basescu has emerged as the winner of 
Romania's December 12 second-round presidential run-off 
elections.  With 99 percent of the vote counted, the Central 
Electoral Bureau (BEC) announced early afternoon December 13 
that Basescu held 51.23 percent of the vote compared to 48.77 
percent for ruling Social Democratic-Humanist party (PSD-PUR) 
union candidate Prime Minister Adrian Nastase.  PSD insiders 
tell post that the party leadership is coming to terms with 
what they see as a clear defeat.  Nastase conceded at 2:10 PM 
local time December 13, noting that the vote indicated a 
broad urban-rural split in Romania and leaving open the 
possibility of political cohabitation. 
 
3. (C) Meanwhile, the PNL-PD leadership is meeting in a 
closed session to discuss options for forming a possible 
parliamentary coalition.  Given that most in PNL-PD were 
surprised at Sunday's result, the alliance has not engaged in 
serious discussions with other parties -- unlike the PSD-PUR 
-- since November 28 parliamentary elections and first-round 
presidential elections.  Senior PD leader Cosmin Gusa 
confided to PolChief -- "We are just waking up to all of 
this." 
 
Possibilities for a Coalition 
----------------------------- 
4. (C) Gusa also cautioned the morning of December 13 that it 
remained too early to determine how the PNL-PD will attempt 
to form a coalition.  Nonetheless, he conceded that there is 
much speculation both inside and outside the alliance.  The 
possibilities are numerous.  Analysts note the first option 
may be a minority coalition with the ethnic Hungarian party 
(UDMR), the 18 Chamber of Deputies members reserved for 
ethnic minorities, and support from individual MPs from other 
parties, including defectors from the extreme nationalist 
Greater Romania Party (PRM) (Note: Basescu has repeatedly 
publicly and privately ruled out a coalition with the PRM. 
However, analysts note that this would not negate the 
possibility of many PRM MPs declining to vote against a new 
PNL-PD led government.  End Note.) 
 
5. (C) A second option would be co-opting the Humanist Party 
(PUR), which holds 18 positions in the Chamber of Deputies 
and ten in the Senate.  With the UDMR and ethnic minority 
seats, this would provide a clear majority.  The PUR released 
a communique early afternoon December 13 expressing the 
party's political independence, indicating that this might be 
a path PNL-PD could pursue.  A third option would be to call 
elections as allowed by the constitution if the parliament 
meeting in joint session fails to form a government after 
three votes.  Basescu could decide that PNL-PD could build 
upon momentum generated by the December 12 results to achieve 
a commanding parliamentary majority by holding new elections. 
 A final option would be cohabitation, allowing the PSD the 
possibility to form a government.  This last option is viewed 
as the least likely, as it would deny Basescu the capacity to 
implement PNL-PD's platform. 
 
Possibilities for a Cabinet 
--------------------------- 
6. (SBU) Throughout the campaign, Basescu repeatedly stated 
that PNL-PD's prime minister would be PNL acting president 
Calin Popescu Tariceanu.  This reflects the longstanding deal 
between PNL and PD that one party would hold the presidency 
while the other would be accorded the prime minister 
position.  Tariceanu remained at Basescu's side during 
celebratory comments made late December 12 and was the only 
other PNL-PD leader to share the microphone with the press. 
Beyond Tariceanu, Embassy contacts say the composition of a 
possible PNL-PD cabinet remains unclear.  Party insiders and 
reliable media sources bruit several well-known political 
figures for the top positions. 
 
7. (SBU) Leading PD member Adriean Videanu is touted as a 
potential Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Economy. 
Videanu is one of PD's richest politicians and currently 
heads the Romanian-American Investment Fund.  He was one of 
the few parliamentarians to voluntarily leave office in 
accordance with new conflict of interest legislation.  His 
managerial skills and discretion are widely respected across 
PNL and PD ranks.  PD's Sorin Frunzaverde appears to be a 
frontrunner for Minister of Defense.  He briefly held the 
position in 2000 and is well known by the Embassy.  PNL's 
Valeriu Stoica is a possibility for Minister of Justice, and 
PNL's leading female deputy Mona Musca will likely be 
appointed either as Minister of Culture or Minister of Labor. 
 PNL economic advisor Ionut Popescu, a well-known journalist 
and economist is a wildcard.  However, given his position as 
the chief proponent of PNL's liberal economic strategy, he is 
likely to receive a key position in a future alliance 
government. 
 
Comment 
------- 
8. (C) Basescu's win is seen here as a new beginning in 
Romanian politics, with many hopes and expectations. 
Upcoming days will focus on coalition building to include 
frenzied horse-trading for leadership positions in the 
parliament and senior government slots.  We expect PSD will 
emerge as a tough opponent, with popular outgoing President 
Ion Iliescu taking over party leadership and with the PSD 
still highly influential -- through formal and informal bonds 
-- over state institutions, including the judiciary and 
intelligence services.  Events are evolving quickly in 
Bucharest.  The only certainty is that Basescu and his allies 
have pulled off an unexpected victory with likely sweeping 
repercussions on Romania's economic and political life 
 
9. (U) Amembassy Bucharest's reporting telegrams, as well as 
daily press summaries, are available on the Bucharest SIPRNet 
website:  www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/bucharest 
CROUCH 

            
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