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Romanian presidential election, 2009

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Romanian presidential election, 2009

Romanian presidential election, 2009

22 November and 6 December 2009

Turnout 9,718,840 (54.37%)
10,481,568 (58.02%)
Nominee Traian Băsescu Mircea Geoană
Party PDL
Popular vote 5,275,808 5,205,760
Percentage 50.33% 49.66%

President before election

Traian Băsescu

Elected President

Traian Băsescu

Coat of arms of Romania
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

The first round of 2009 Romanian presidential elections was held in [5] but also urged the authorities to investigate claims of fraud.[6]

On 8 December, the Social Democratic Party submitted their request to annul and repeat the presidential election run-off to the Constitutional Court, saying the election was rigged.[7] On 14 December, the Constitutional Court repelled the request after recounting all the annulled vote.[8]

Simultaneously with the first round, a referendum was held on introducing a unicameral parliament of up to 300 deputies instead of the current bicameral parliament. The referendum was declared valid after 50.16% of the registered voters expressed their opinion, and exit polls indicate over 70% support for the reforms.[9]


There were twelve candidates of which three ran as independents.[10] The candidates of the major parties were: the incumbent Traian Băsescu (formally independent, but supported by Democratic Liberal Party (PD-L) and the official fraction of Christian-Democratic National Peasants' Party (PNŢ-CD), led by Marian Miluţ), Mircea Geoană (Social Democratic Party (PSD)), Crin Antonescu (National Liberal Party (PNL) and the contender fraction of PNŢ-CD, led by Radu Sârbu), Hunor Kelemen (Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR))[11] and Corneliu Vadim Tudor (Greater Romania Party (PRM)).[12][13] Mayor of Bucharest Sorin Oprescu (formerly PSD member) announced his candidacy as an independent candidate on 5 October 2009;[14] Băsescu also had been mayor of Bucharest before becoming president.[15]

Radu, Prince of Hohenzollern-Veringen, husband of Princess Margarita of Romania first announced his candidacy to the office of President on 9 April 2009,[16] but later withdrew.[17][18]


The main contenders, incumbent Băsescu and the President of the Parliament Mircea Geoană, offered different ways to tackle the economic crisis, Romania being in the grip of severe recession with the economy expected to contract eight percent in 2009. While Geoană offered to increase investment to beat the recession and promised "vigorous measures" such as building affordable flats for young people and giving cheap credits to enterprises in order to help create jobs, Băsescu pledged to cut public spending.[19] Băsescu also promised more equity to people living in the countryside. Christian Mititelu, a political commentator quoted by the BBC, argued that due to extremely vigorous political strife there was no real campaign debate about how the economy should recover or on the structure of the next year's budget, and that the public were not sufficiently aware of these economic issues, while the contenders did not attempt to communicate and involve the public in such decisions.[20]

Băsescu tried to portray himself as the champion of the people against what he called "the corrupt political elite". A widely used election poster carried the text: "They cannot avoid what they are afraid of". Băsescu's opponents countered that he is part of that elite, simply with different backers. In a Cluj-Napoca meeting with supporters he claimed he "was the one to stop doubtful privatisations", implicitly accusing rival Social-Democrats of underhand practices while in power. He vowed to fight against the Parliament, which blocked his bid to install the Croitoru cabinet, and the "media moguls". In the campaign for the first round, his favorite campaign theme was reducing the number of lawmakers.[19] This theme proved popular with the overwhelming majority of the electorate voting for the reduction of the number of lawmakers from current 471 to a maximum of 300, and in favor of a transition from the current bicameral parliament to a unicameral one in a referendum held simultaneously with the first round of elections. One of Basescu's favorite themes is his fight against parliament and media moguls such as businessmen Dan Voiculescu, Sorin Ovidiu Vîntu, and Dinu Patriciu, politicians Ion Iliescu, Viorel Hrebenciuc, and Marian Vanghelie.[19]

The main counter-candidate, Geoană, on the other hand, described himself as a "man of dialogue", who can "restore Romania's unity", allegedly "jeopardized" by Basescu.[19] A former ambassador to the United States, former foreign minister, and a seasoned diplomat, Geoană edged aside more powerful figures in his Social Democratic party.

In the first round held on 22 November, Băsescu came first with 32.44% of the votes, and Geoană second with 31.15%. According to a BBC analyst [20] a victory by Geoană would be caused by the numerous enemies Băsescu has made during his tenure, especially in the media. On the other hand, a victory of the incumbent could be generated by his counter-candidate alleged lack of "human touch", and because doubts remain over his ability to control the "red barons" in his own party. Crin Antonescu [of the National Liberals who scored third with 20.02%] was the first choice of all those who are fed up with Băsescu but could not bring themselves to vote Socialist. His voters hold the key to victory on 6 December.

Although Băsescu claimed the results of the first round were "a significant vote for the right" because he and Crin Antonescu together received over 50% of the vote, the next day Antonescu refused to back Băsescu in the runoff, and shortly thereafter announced an alliance with Geoană. Subsequently Băsescu reproached Antonescu to "have thrown himself in the arms of the Social-Democrat party, a party opposed to reforms", and added "This alliance will bring us back to 20 years ago when the PSD was controlling all state institutions".[21] Antonescu in turn called Băsescu "a demagogue and a populist", and vowed to support Geoană as "the lesser of two evils".[22]

Mircea Geoană promised to appoint Klaus Johannis as Prime Minister of Romania if he was elected President. Johannis was the candidate supported by a majority in the Parliament of Romania. Romania had a caretaker government since the government of Emil Boc fell on 13 October. The parliament rejected Traian Băsescu's nomination of Lucian Croitoru for new Prime Minister on 4 November.


Voter turnout for the 2009 Romanian Presidential election - First round
Number of votes on "special lists" - First round
The results of the first voting round by county and in the Bucharest municipality
The results of the first voting round by communes (some commune borders are inaccurate)
The results of the second voting round by county and in the Bucharest municipality
First round % Runoff %
a. Expected voters: 18,293,277 18,303,224
b. Turnout(1): 9,946,748 54.37 10,620,116 58.02
c. Total valid votes(2): 9,718,840 97.70 10,481,568 98.69
d. Total invalid votes(2): 227,446 2.28 138,476 1.30

1. The percentage on row b is calculated from row a
2. The percentages on rows c and d are calculated from b

Source: Biroul Electoral Central

Second round

After the first round, New Generation Party – Christian Democratic (PNG) decided to support Mircea Geoană—the candidate of the Social Democratic Party/Conservative Party Alliance—in the second round. Sorin Oprescu decided not to support anyone and Corneliu Vadim Tudor with his PRM—at national level—called his voters to boycot the runoff round; however the PRM in Sibiu county decided to support Geoană.[23][24][25][26][27] Geoană announced he would nominate Klaus Iohannis as prime minister if he won.[28]

Both runoff candidates declared themselves winners after tight exit polls.[29][30] On Monday, 7 December 2009 at 8 am, BEC published the first official partial results, after having counted the votes from 95.4% of the total of 21706 poll stations. According to these partial results, Traian Băsescu had achieved 50.43% of the total eligible votes, while Mircea Geoană got the rest of 49.57%.[31] The official partial results tallied at 10:16 am (Monday, 7 December 2009) attested that Traian Băsescu achieved 50.37% of the total eligible votes and Mircea Geoană 49.62%.[32] A majority of 78.86% the votes from abroad, fully counted in this tally, went for Băsescu (115,831 to 31,045).[33][34] Some 94% of the estimated 200,000 Moldovans with Romanian citizenship who voted in the election cast their vote for Basescu, who has been a vocal advocate of Moldovans' right to regain Romanian citizenship.[35] Following final results, Sibiu mayor Klaus Iohannis announced that he is abandoning his bid to become prime minister in the current situation.[36] Romanian stock markets fell to a four-month low after the official results were announced, deepening a political crisis that threatens ties with international lenders.[37]

Official partial results

Time Votes Counted Băsescu Geoană
08:00[31] 95.4% 50.43% 49.57%
10:16[32] 99.13% 50.37% 49.62%
14:00[38][39] 99.95% 50.33% 49.66%
14:45[2][40] 100% 50.33% 49.66%

Opinion polls

Note: Opinion polls have been criticised in this election for their unreliability, with large differences in results obtained between different polling agencies.[41][42]

First round

Polling Firm Date Source Băsescu Geoană Antonescu Oprescu Tudor Kelemen Others Undecided
GSS 16 May 2009 [1] 30.8% 24.3% 20.3% 5.5% N/A 7.8% 5%
CURS 26 June 2009 [2] 36% 24% 20% 11% 2% 3% N/A
INSOMAR 12 July 2009 [3] 35.7% 29.6% 16.8% 11.9% N/A N/A N/A
Gallup Romania 16–20/07/09 [4] 35% 18% 20% 10% 3% N/A N/A
CCSB 17–19/09/2009 [5] 34% 18% 19% 12% 7% 1% N/A N/A
INSOMAR 8–11/10/09 [6] 33.4% 28.5% 14.5% 8.1% 6.1% 4.3% N/A N/A
CSOP 16–18/10/09 [7] 35% 24% 19% 8% 4% 4% N/A N/A
CURS 15–22/10/09 [8] 31% 30% 17% 9% 5% 4% 4% N/A
BCS 19 October 2009 [9] 31.3% 21.9% 23.8% 10.4% 3.7% 3.8% 5.1% N/A
Operations Research 20–23/10/09 [10] 31% 21% 22% 12% 6% 29/10-1/11 /09 6%
INSOMAR 29/10–1/11 /09 [11] 30% 32% 19% 6% 7% 3% 5.1% N/A
Gallup Romania 01–03/11/09 [12] 32.5% 21.5% 21.5% 11% 5% 2.5% N/A
CCSB 3 November 2009 [13] 34% 30% 18% 14% 3% 1% 1%
INSOMAR 9 November 2009 [14] 31% 32% 18% 5% 6% 5% N/A
CCSB 11 November 2009 [15] 34% 31% 16% 10% 4% 3% 2%
Operations Research 15 November 2009 [16] 30% 23% 26% 8% 6% 4% 3%
CSOP 18 November 2009 [17] 37% 27% 20% 6% 3% 5% 2%
Operations Research 19 November 2009 [18] 32,5% 23,5% 24,5% 7% 6% 4% 2,5%

Exit polls

Polling Firm Source Băsescu Geoană Antonescu Tudor Kelemen Oprescu
CSOP Gandul 33.2% 30.3% 22% 4.9%
CURS TVR 33.72% 31.44% 21.53% 4.22% 3.26% 3.18%
INSOMAR Realitatea TV 32.8% 31.7% 21.8% 4% 3.6% 3.5%
CCSB Antena 3 34.1% 30.9% 22.1% 3.6% 3.6% 3.4%

Second round

Băsescu vs Geoană
Polling Firm Date Source Băsescu Geoană
INCOR 28 June 2009 [19] 52% 48%
CCSB 27 July 2009 [20] 53% 47%
CCSB 3 October 2009 [21] 47% 53%
CSOP 7 October 2009 [22] 53% 47%
INSOMAR 8–11/10/09 [23] 49.4% 50.6%
CURS 26 October 2009 [24] 50% 50%
INSOMAR 29/10–1/11 /09 [25] 47% 53%
CCSB 3 November 2009 [26] 46% 54%
INSOMAR 6–9/11 /09 [27] 47% 53%
INSOMAR 28–29/11 /09 [28] 46% 54%

Exit polls

Polling Firm Date Source Băsescu Geoană
INSOMAR 21:00 6 /12 /09 [29] 48.8% 51.2%
CSOP 21:00 6 /12 /09 [30] 50.4% 49.6%
CURS 21:00 6 /12 /09 [31] 49.3% 50.7%
CCSB 21:00 6 /12 /09 [32] 49% 51%


Accusations of electoral fraud

The opposition has decided to contest the result; Mircea Geoană announced that the Social Democrats will contest the elections at the Constitutional Court and will submit evidence of electoral fraud.[43] PSD Secretary General Liviu Dragnea cited "a high number of void ballots, modified voting protocols, and massive electoral tourism".[3] Dragnea stated: "Romanians voted for Mircea Geoană, but Băsescu's state apparatus is trying to make him the presidential winner through fraud".[44] Former Prime Minister Adrian Năstase and former President Ion Iliescu, both PSD members, also stated that they doubted the results.

Mircea Geoană has also stated that the Social Democrats exclude any collaboration with Băsescu and his party, and maintain the majority with the Liberals and Hungarian Democrats,[43] while Crin Antonescu also stated that the Liberal Party excludes "any participation in a Traian Băsescu puppet government".[45]

Proceedings at the Constitutional Court

On 8 December, the Social Democratic Party submitted their request to annul and repeat the presidential election run-off to the Constitutional Court, saying the election was rigged.[7]

On 11 December, in an unprecedented decision the Constitutional Court decided to recount all 138,476 invalid votes.[46] After 137,613 invalid votes recounted, only 2,137 were revalidated (1.6% of recounted invalid votes), 1,169 votes for Traian Băsescu and 968 for Mircea Geoană.[47]

On 14 December, the Constitutional Court rejected the request to repeat the presidential elections, paving the way to validate Băsescu's election.[48] The same day, Geoană admitted defeat and wished Băsescu good luck in his second term in office.[49]


  1. ^ BEC, REZULTATE FINALE PROVIZORII – BĂSESCU 50,33 %, GEOANĂ 49,66%. PSD CONTESTĂ ALEGERILE reclamând "acţiunea masivă de fraudare a votului"
  2. ^ a b (Romanian) BEC rezultate finale, neomologate, ora 14.50: Traian Băsescu 50,33%, Mircea Geoană 49,66%
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ Romania opposition alleges fraud in presidential poll
  5. ^ Romanian President's Election Win Contested by Rival
  6. ^ Romania divided and paralysed by president's disputed, wafer-thin win
  7. ^ a b Geoana demands repeat of presidential elections
  8. ^
  10. ^ Romanian Central Electoral Commission(Romanian)
  11. ^ (Romanian) "Kelemen Hunor a fost votat drept candidat al UDMR la Preşedinţi" ("Hunor Kelemen Voted UDMR Presidential Candidate"), Mediafax, 27 June 2009
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ (Romanian) Prince Radu, the first official candidate to the office of President of Romania
  17. ^ (Romanian) Official site
  18. ^ (English) Official site
  19. ^ a b c d Isabelle Wesselingh (AFP) – Nov 14, 2009, Romanian president steps up attacks ahead of poll
  20. ^ a b "Romania election's strange enigma", BBC
  21. ^ Mihaela Rodina (AFP), Alliance battle starts as Romania heads for presidential run-off
  22. ^ ALISON MUTLER (AP), Romania's president, rival in runoff election
  23. ^ PNL decided unanimously to support Mircea Geoana in the second round. UDMR aims for a tight collaboration with liberals , English., 24 November 2009
  24. ^ ROMANIA: Traian Basescu, Mircea Geoana Face Runoff,, 24 November 2009
  25. ^ Basescu – glad an alliance against him was set up, expects PRM to join it ...,, 24 November 2009
  26. ^ Romania: Start of electoral campaign for presidential runoff,, 27 November 2009
  27. ^ Political premier in Sibiu: PRM and UDM agree to support Mircea Geoana,, 26 November 2009
  28. ^ (Romanian) România lui Băsescu, România lui Geoană
  29. ^ Victory Claimed by Both Candidates in Romania
  30. ^ (Romanian) GEOANĂ 51,6 %, BĂSESCU 48,4 % – INSOMAR; CCSB – G 51,2, B 48,8; CSOP – G 50, B 50; CURS – G 50,8, B 49,2 Băsescu şi Geoană s-au declarat învingători
  31. ^ a b (Romanian) Rezultate partiala ora 8:00
  32. ^ a b (Romanian) Rezultate partiala ora 10:00
  33. ^ (Romanian) BĂSESCU 50,37 % GEOANĂ 49,62% Rezultatele BEC, la ora 11.00, după numărarea voturilor din 99,13% din secţii răstoarnă clasamentul dat de exit-polluri. Băsescu: "Un fleac, i-am ciuruit"
  34. ^ (Romanian) Băsescu, pe primul loc la votul în Italia, Spania, SUA; Geoană câştigă în Rusia, Belarus şi teatre
  35. ^ Moldovan PM 'Satisfied' With Romanian Vote Result
  36. ^ (Romanian) Klaus Johannis: Parcursul meu de posibil premier s-a terminat aici. Sunt si raman in Sibiu
  37. ^ Romania Stocks Fall Most in 4 Months on Vote; Bond Risk Jumps
  38. ^ (Romanian) Rezultate partiala ora 14:00
  39. ^ TVR
  40. ^ (Romanian) BEC, REZULTATE FINALE PROVIZORII – BĂSESCU 50,33 %, GEOANĂ 49,66%. PSD CONTESTĂ ALEGERILE reclamând "acţiunea masivă de fraudare a votului"
  41. ^ (Romanian) nu va mai publica sondaje de opinie cu subiect politic pe durata campaniei electorale,, 3 November 2009
  42. ^ (Romanian) De ce nu dam sondaje politice, Mediafax, 2 November 2009
  43. ^ a b Social Democrats decided to contest elections / Mircea Geoana: we exclude any collaboration with the Democrat Liberals and maintain the majority with the Liberals and Hungarian Democrats
  44. ^ Romania opposition party contests election results, accusing Basescu supporters of fraud
  45. ^ Liberal leader Crin Antonescu: Basescu does not wish for a Government with PNL, but to engulf, compromise or break the liberals
  46. ^ (Romanian) Curtea Constituţională a decis renumărarea voturilor nule
  47. ^ (Romanian) S-a încheiat renumărarea voturilor naţionale nule de la BEC
  48. ^ (Romanian) Alegerile nu se repetă: Cererea PSD de anulare a turului II, respinsă de CCR. Băsescu obţine un nou mandat
  49. ^ (Romanian) Geoană: Îi urez succes lui Traian Băsescu!

Further reading

  • Recession Bad, Communism Worse in Romania
  • OSCE second round preliminary report, press release
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