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Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 60,358 44,428 38,700 52
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 2,310 1,850 1,720 100
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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Update No: 151 - (27/12/09)

Pivotal elections
Romania has been holding a very important pair of elections to the presidency, reckoned to be the most significant since the fall of communism in 1989. They have been bitterly contested.

In the first round in November the incumbent, Trajan Basescu, fared poorly. He did not look as if he had done quite enough to win the second round. President Basescu had 32.43% of the vote, while Social Democrat Geoana had 31.16%, according to the central election office. Liberal Crin Antonescu was third with 20.02%.

What was ominous for Basescu was that Antonescu immediately announced that he would not support Basescu and that any deal with Geoana would depend on his plan to tackle an economy that is expected to have shrunk by eight percent in 2009, with a huge international aid package currently blocked until a new government is formed.

In the event Basescu won second-time round, albeit by the slenderest of margins, 50.33% to Geoana’s 49.67%.

Contested electoral result
Romania's opposition Social Democrat party alleged the second round of the presidential elections on December 6 was rigged and contested the result.

Earlier, exit polls had predicted victory for his Social Democrat rival, former Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana. It is possible there was some hanky-panky along the way. Romania is anything but an established democracy. In Ceausescu's time under communism rigged elections were routine.

Still, it is a bit of a surprise that Basescu, or rather his supporters should resort to such tactics, if indeed they did. They are all ardent advocates of liberal democracy. Moreover, it is not as if the opposition figure is a villain, against whom dubious tactics might seem to be justified.

He does belong to the Social Democratic Party, which is indeed the heir to the Communist Party of Romania. But it is, as it were, the ideal alter ego of the same, shedding the invidious practices of the original, among which vote-rigging was the most blatant.

Wherever the truth lies, the constitutional court ruled on December 14th that Basescu had won the most votes in the run-off, despite opposition claim that it was rigged. The election authorities re-examined 138,000 voided ballots and decided the result of the election was unchanged. Geoana has reluctantly conceded defeat and asserted the court had ignored extremely clear evidence of fraud.

Constitutional reform on the way
The first round of the election had been accompanied by a referendum on the constitution. It concerned the very size of the parliament.

Romanians voted in favour of reforming parliament, with 77.1 percent approving the idea of a single chamber. Some 88.9 percent voted to reduce the number of lawmakers from 471 to 300.

The latter near unanimity is easy to explain. People are convinced that a large number of their legislators are corrupt, explaining perhaps electoral irregularities to date. A reduction in their number could produce a shake-out of the more corrupt. Time will tell.

But this all awaits the next parliamentary elections, some time away, yet to be decided. Romania is certainly in flux.

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