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This article was downloaded by: [University College London] On: 09 November 2014, At: 13:19 Publisher: Routledge Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK Representation Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rrep20 The Romanian elections of November 1996 Dennis Deletant a & Peter SianiDavies b a Professor of Romanian Studies at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies , University of London b Lecturer in Modern SouthEast European Studies at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies , University of London Published online: 06 Jul 2007. To cite this article: Dennis Deletant & Peter SianiDavies (1998) The Romanian elections of November 1996 , Representation, 35:2-3, 155-167, DOI: 10.1080/00344899808523033 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00344899808523033 PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE Taylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (the “Content”) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor & Francis, our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinions and views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors, and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Content should not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sources of information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims, proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arising out of the use of the Content. This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any substantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing, systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/ page/terms-and-conditions

Romanian elections of November 1996

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This article was downloaded by: [University College London]On: 09 November 2014, At: 13:19Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

RepresentationPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rrep20

The Romanian elections ofNovember 1996Dennis Deletant a & Peter Siani‐Davies b

a Professor of Romanian Studies at the School of Slavonic andEast European Studies , University of Londonb Lecturer in Modern South‐East European Studies at theSchool of Slavonic and East European Studies , University ofLondonPublished online: 06 Jul 2007.

To cite this article: Dennis Deletant & Peter Siani‐Davies (1998) The Romanian elections ofNovember 1996 , Representation, 35:2-3, 155-167, DOI: 10.1080/00344899808523033

To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00344899808523033

PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE

Taylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information(the “Content”) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor& Francis, our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warrantieswhatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of theContent. Any opinions and views expressed in this publication are the opinions andviews of the authors, and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. Theaccuracy of the Content should not be relied upon and should be independentlyverified with primary sources of information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liablefor any losses, actions, claims, proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages,and other liabilities whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly inconnection with, in relation to or arising out of the use of the Content.

This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden.Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions

The efficiency and fairness of the electoral process has improvedconsiderably in Romania since the first post-Ceausescu electionswere held in 1990 and 1992.

The Romanian Elections ofNovember 19961

Dennis Deletant and Peter Siani-Davies

Dennis Deletant isProfessor of RomanianStudies at the School ofSlavonic and EastEuropean Studies,University of London;and Peter Siani-Davies isLecturer in ModernSouth-East EuropeanStudies at the School ofSlavonic and EastEuropean Studies,University of London.

1. The authors werepresent during theelections as OSCEinternational observers.Professor Deletantobserving the election inVaslui and Dr Siani-Davies in Suceava. Theywould like to thank inparticular StephenJudson and ElectoralReform InternationalServices who wereresponsible fororganising the UK teamof observers for theForeign andCommonwealth Office.

2. This was the generalconclusion of the short-term electionobservation report to theForeign andCommonwealth Officeprepared by ERIS.3. The CDR in 1992,alongside its mainconstituent the NationalPeasant Party-ChristianDemocratic (PNT-CD),included amongst other

The general elections of November 1996 were the third to be held inRomania since the bloody revolution of 1989 which secured theoverthrow of the Ceausescu dictatorship. The elections passed withoutmajor incident and, despite a few minor blemishes, they were generallyjudged to be an impressive and highly successful exercise in massdemocracy.2 In this they fully reflected the new found stability andcontinuity emerging in Romanian politics exemplified by the fact thatboth the two principal challengers for the presidency and the mainparties contesting the polls were the same as in 1992. The onlymodifications since then have been that the Democratic Convention ofRomania coalition (CDR) has seen some changes amongst its smallerconstituents, the Democratic National Salvation Front [of President IonIlliescu] has renamed itself the Party of Social Democracy in Romania(PDSR) and the National Salvation Front, after adding Democratic Partyto its name, subsequently entered a new coalition as the SocialDemocratic Union (USD).3 In both the latter cases the final removal ofthe appellation National Salvation Front, which is forever associatedwith the revolution, is not only a symbolic shedding of the past but alsoserves as an affirmation of the growing normality of the Romanianpolitical process.

There can be little doubt that the polls of 1996 were a milestone inRomanian electoral history as they brought the first democratic changeof head of state in the country since the foundation of an independentRomanian state in 1859 and represented the first time that a rulinggovernment had been voted out of office since 1937.

The electoral frameworkDuring November 1996 the Romanian people in fact went to the pollstwice for three separate elections in which they chose a new presidentand members of both houses of parliament, the Senate and the

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groupings the CivicAlliance Party, theLiberal Party '93, theSocial Democratic Partyof Romania (PSDR) andthe Romanian EcologicalParty (PER). Althoughthe HungarianDemocratic Federationof Romania was formallya member of theConvention, it stood ona separate list in theelection. In 1996 ofthese parties only thePNŢ-CD and the PERremained, although theyhad been joined by theNational Liberal Partyand a new grouping, theParty of RomanianAlternative. The USDcomprises the PD-FSNand the PSDR.

4. For a profile of Frundasee Zsolt-Istvan Mato,'Ethnic Hungarian in theRomanian presidentialrace', Transition,27 December 1996,pp.18-19.5. Aside from the 328seats allocated byconstituency, 15 seats inthe Chamber of Deputieswere awarded tominority organisationswhich gained a certainproportion of thenational vote.

Chamber of Deputies. The elections took place under an electoral lawwhich had been only slightly modified since 1992. For the presidency aFrench style dual ballot system was employed. Under this for acandidate to win in the first round he has to gain the endorsement ofmore than half the voters entered on the electoral register. As this didnot occur, a second ballot took place two weeks later on 17 Novemberin which the two leading candidates from the first round faced eachother in a run-off. Partly because of the powers accruing to him underthe constitution but also because politics in Romania tends to be stillhighly orientated towards personalities the presidential vote was seenas the crucial poll and the touchstone upon which the election turned.

In order to stand for the presidency 100,000 signatures have to begathered in support of a candidacy. In 1996 a particularly large field ofsixteen managed to clear this hurdle and were entered onto the ballotpaper. The three main challengers each represented the three leadingpolitical groupings in the country: Ion Iliescu (the incumbent) wasassociated with the ruling PDSR, Emil Constantinescu, his chief rivalfrom 1992, was leader of the CDRand Petre Roman, the first primeminister of Romania after the 1989 revolution, now headed the USD.Alongside these three there were also representatives from all the othermajor parties, including Gyorgy Frunda of the Hungarian DemocraticUnion of Romania (UDMR), the first Hungarian to stand for theRomanian presidency.4 There was also a number of fringe independentcandidates including Radu Campeanu, the losing National Liberal Partypresidential candidate from the 1990 elections, Nicolae Militaru, anageing general who had featured prominently during the revolution anddied shortly after the elections on 27 December 1996, and the eccentricConstantin Mudava who appeared to believe that he had been divinelychosen to secure Romania's national redemption.

Both chambers of the Romanian parliament are elected by a partylist proportional representation system based on 42 multi-memberconstituencies. The number of seats is not fixed but allocated in directproportion to the number of electors at the rate of one deputy for every70,000 electors for the lower house and one senator for every 160,000electors for the upper house. Any increase in the size of the electorateis thus reflected in a rise in the number of parliamentarians and withover one million new electors on the register in 1996 the number ofdeputies in the lower house has risen from 328 to 343.' The number inthe Senate remains unchanged at 143. The actual distribution ofmandates is resolved by a complex quota system in which votes surplusto the exact number needed to secure a mandate in a constituency aretransferred to a national pool where they are divided between theparties represented in parliament according the largest average(d'Hondt) system. These seats are then redistributed back to the

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6. For details of thissystem see the editor'snote in Dennis Deletant,'The RomanianElections of May 1990',Representation, 29:108(1990), p.26.

7. At the local electionsearlier in 1996 theturnout had only been56.9%. The IRSOP-IFESexit poll on 3 Novemberrevealed that 45% of thevoters were veryinterested in theelection, 32% fairlyinterested, 18% not veryinterested and 5% notinterested at all.

8. This achieved a 68%approval rating amongstelectors according to theIRSOP-IFESelectoral poll. The PDSRpresented a far lengthier21-point programme forRomania.

constituencies where the surplus was greatest in a highly proportionatesystem which can occasionally produce startling anomalies.6 Such acase occurred in 1996 in the senatorial allocations for Giurgiu wherethe UDMRwas awarded a mandate even though the party only gathered269 votes out of the 112,158 cast within the constituency.

The threshold for representation in parliament was 3% and despitethe large number of parties contesting the campaign (65 entering therace for the Chamber of Deputies) only six managed to pass this limit(See Table 4). The coalition building of the smaller Romanian politicalparties often resembles a game of musical chairs so comparisons aredifficult to make but amongst the groups failing to renew theirmandate in the new parliament were the Socialists, the political heirs ofthe old Romanian Communist Party, who had dealt a fatal self-inflictedblow to their electoral prospects by splitting into the Socialist Party andthe Socialist Labour Party; the Democratic Agrarian Party of Romania,which had secured a foothold in both the parliaments of 1990 and 1992,also failed to renew its mandate when as part of the National Union ofthe Centre it gained only 0.97% of the vote.

The electoral campaignThe electoral campaign almost lasted the sixty days stipulated by lawand was free of major incident or unrest. Campaigning by all the mainparties and presidential candidates was intensive but attendance atmeetings and rallies across the country was moderate enough to raiseconcerns about voter apathy.7 In contrast to 1992, all the main politicalgroups actively campaigned in rural and urban centres of every size. InSuceava county (partly reflecting its position as a key swingconstituency) even quite small centres had attracted the attention of allthree of the main presidential candidates. As in past years within thetowns and cities the campaign was highly visible with all availablesurfaces seemingly plastered with electoral posters, although it wasnoticeable that these were seldom to be seen in the country-side. Ingeneral, the electoral campaigns of the various parties wereprofessionally mounted and, as in previous years, the influence ofoverseas techniques was again visible. For example, EmilConstantinescu in imitation of the Republican Party and Newt Gingrichin the USA also presented his own commitments as a twenty point'Contract with Romania' which were to be fulfilled within 200 days ofachieving office.8 Often personality, as much as ideology, seemed todominate but the single most important issue during the campaignremained the economy followed by other related matters such ascorruption.

Some of the most striking differences between the elections of 1992and 1996 could be seen in the media which, if anything, this time might

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be judged to have been slightly more favourable to the opposition thanthe ruling regime. The three main dailies Evenimentul Zilei, Adevarul, andRomania Liberd all sold advertising space to the leading candidates forthe presidency with Adevarul on 29 November publishing the record ofa debate involving nine of the 16 candidates. Euenimentul Zilei was lesshostile than usual to the ruling PDSRand President Iliescu, with IonCristoiu, the most influential and acute political analyst in Romania,instead reserving his ire for Corneliu Vadim Tudor, leader of theGreater Romania Party (PRM), and the independent candidates NicolaeMilitaru and Constantin Mudava. Romania Libera maintained itscustomary stance of hostility towards Ion Iliescu and usually uncriticalsupport for the Convention. Adevarul displayed more editorialindependence than in 1992, when it had supported the ruling party, thepredecessor of the PDSR. However, it did carry during the presentcampaign a number of scurrilous attacks on the USD and in general thetendency remains for newspapers to indulge in wild and often poorlyresearched denunciations of political adversaries in an effort to tarnishreputations.

The circulation of even the most popular newspaper, EuenimentulZilei, is only 170,000. In a country with a population of over 23 millionthis means that local newspapers are still often an important source ofnews. Generally, the political orientation of these seems to havereflected the divisions of the centre. For example, in Suceava, of thelocal press Crai Nou was generally accepted as being independent,whilst the most popular local newspaper, Monitorul de Suceava, was heldto be favouring the opposition. The relatively small newspapercirculation means that for most of the population television and radiostill remain the main sources of news and information. Here, one ofthe chief differences between the elections of 1996 and 1992 was thepresence of a number of independent television channels: Pro-TV,Antenna 1 and Tele 7abc. The largest of these stations, Pro-TV, whosecoverage includes Bucharest and 51 of the biggest urban centres, is asubscription service which seems to enjoy considerable popularity. Ingeneral, during the electoral campaign it was seen as favouring theopposition and offered an important counterbalance to the perceivedbias of the state television service (TVR).

Outside the urban centres - 35% of Romania's population still workin agriculture - and amongst poorer families unable to pay thesubscription costs, public TV and radio remain the prime source ofinformation. Prior to the elections the public broadcasting institutionsoffered free air time to all parties and presidential candidates accordingto criteria stipulated by parliament which they scrupulously respected.The parliamentary parties did not pay for air time, the costs being metby the state. Candidates and parties who were not members of the

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parliament were required to pay a fee of $11 per minute on public radioand $16 per minute on TV (TVRi) if a pre-recorded cassette was used,or $48 if they used a TV studio.

As during past elections, the opposition parties again voicedconsiderable concern about the state television's coverage of thecampaign. At issue were not so much instances of specific politicalbias but what was seen as a more general failure of professionalstandards and objectivity. Similar concerns were also to be found in thefindings of the European Institute for the Media, based in Dusseldorf,which again monitored the campaign. Despite finding the generalmedia coverage far better than in 1992, the EIM expressed concern atthe complete lack of analysis and commentary on TVR news itemsrelating to the campaign and the generally passive attitude of TVRjournalists who remained content to announce party presscommuniques. It also confirmed opposition complaints that too muchuncritical exposure had been given to a succession of meetings held byPresident Iliescu and government ministers with foreign dignitaries,although it should be noted that such items have long been a staple ofRomanian news broadcasts.

The main public TV channel (TVRi) again hosted the pre-electionpresidential debate. This took place during the evening of 31 Octoberbetween 19.00 and 23.30. All sixteen presidential candidates werepresent and each was given equal time to answer the same questionsposed by journalists together with a final two minutes to address thenation. The order of appearance was decided by ballot and the timelimits vigorously applied with even President Iliescu at one point beingbrusquely cut short when he exceeded his allotted time. Comparedwith 1992 the debate appeared more stage-managed and the excessivenumber of minor candidates together with the absence of any realpolemics seems to have made it a rather boring affair for manyRomanians.

The electionPartly as a legacy of the highly charged political atmosphereengendered by the revolution and partly as a consequence of a historywhich has seen election results more often reflect the choice ofgovernments than the choice of the people, the electoral process inRomania does not tend to be seen as politically neutral and non-partisan as it is generally in the West. Instead, mistrust has tended toprevail as control of the electoral process has regularly come to be seenas the key determinant assuring victory in the polls. The competentand open conduct of recent national and local polls has started tooverturn these perceptions but they still remain well entrenched withinRomanian political culture, buttressed by the fact that governments

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9. See for instanceMarian Chiriac, 'PDSRpregateste frauda', 22,30 October-5 November1996, p.10; and MichaelShafir, 'Romanianopposition partiesaccuse government ofplanning election fraud',OMRJ Daily Digest,23 October 1996.10. During the 1992elections 12.73% of votesfor the Chamber ofDeputies had been ruledas invalid and 12.06% ofthose for the Senate.

have rarely been voted out of office. Prior to the current election itremained a virtual reflex action for the losing side to cry foul and pointto a host of alleged irregularities which had cheated it of office. In thepast, attention has been focused on the large number of invalid votes,which it has been claimed disproportionately counted against theopposition parties, and the provisions within the law permitting specialregistration lists that enable electors effectively to vote at the pollingstation of their choice anywhere in the country. Prior to the Novemberelections similar concerns were once more voiced by the oppositionthat the polls might again be manipulated to the advantage of theruling party.9 In fact the number of invalid votes in November 1996 wasfar smaller than previously, amounting to only 6.01% of the votes castfor the Senate and 6.38% of those cast for the Chamber of Deputies,although given the complexity of the voting process this should betaken as evidence of the success of voter education programmes ratherthan the thwarting of fraud.10 Similarly, in the opinion of both theauthors, in the constituencies under their scrutiny the circumstances inwhich voters were entered onto the special lists did not give any rise toconcern and, aside from the occasional incidence of assisted voting byfamily members, no irregularities were noted. The principal aim of theopposition in voicing complaints against the poll is to undermine thelegitimacy of the victorious party, but as an almost invariableconsequence doubts are also raised about the general validity of theelectoral process.

As a response to this perceived lack of neutrality in the electoralprocess the Romanians have adopted two sometimes overlappingstrategies. The first of these has involved introducing a series ofbipartisan confidence building measures so as to increase the generaltransparency of the whole electoral mechanism. The most importantof these has seen representatives of the political parties involved atevery stage of the process. The second strategy has been to create anumber of parallel mechanisms to monitor the practices of officialinstitutions. In 1996 this process reached a new sophistication with theopposition mounting a complex parallel count to check the official votetally and the distribution of mandates. Whilst driven by mistrust, ifthey validate the procedures of official institutions, such parallelmechanisms can in themselves act as important confidence buildingmeasures.

As noted before, the most important confidence building measureinvolves the participation of party representatives at all levels of theelectoral process from the Central Electoral Bureau (BEC) in Bucharest,which comprised seven judges and 15 representatives drawn from allthe main parties, to the more than 15,000 local polling stationcommittees each of which consisted of an independent president and

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deputy president, both preferably judges, and up to seven partyrepresentatives. If there were more than seven applicants for the placeson this committee the members were selected by ballot. The localcommittees were responsible for counting the vote and, in general, thisself-regulatory system worked reasonably well as the various membersscrutinised each other as well as the ballots. The only caveat both theauthors would raise is that the committees received no training as tohow the ballots should be counted with the result that the process oftendegenerated into utter confusion. In both the counts attended duringthe long election night a final result was only produced after somevigorous 'massaging' of the figures to tally the number of votescounted with the number of votes cast.

Two other potential problems were also noted within this self-regulatory system. Firstly, prior to the polls the opposition chargedthat in a number of cases the presidents of local committees instead ofbeing the most able neutral candidates were party politicalappointments. Although this was largely just another manifestation oflack of trust in the neutrality of the system, in a number of counties,where the prefect responsible for such appointments was alsopresident of the local branch of the PDSR., more serious questions ofimpartiality were raised. Potentially such a close alignment betweenpolitical and executive power within the county could have been open toabuse and, in general, there did seem to have been a lack oftransparency in the appointment of local presidents. However, thepractical effects of such appointments on the polling process weredifficult to gauge. In general, all that can be said is that in some casesweak presidents allowed other committee members to dominate theproceedings, but whether this had any effect on the voting or countingprocedure was impossible to determine.

Secondly, the representatives of the parties on the politicalcommittees were sometimes not members of the parties concerned noreven their supporters. The smaller parties in particular seem to havebeen unable to mobilise enough representatives, and so had, instead,relied on 'friends of friends' to fill their places - not too difficult a taskgiven the fact that members of the committees received payment fortheir day's work at the rate of 104,000 lei for a president, 80,000 lei fora deputy president and 50,000 lei for other members. As thisrepresentation by proxy was supported by the parties concerned, itcannot be judged as an abuse but, once again, the potential forirregularities existed, although no evidence was found of theserepresentatives failing to adequately scrutinise the vote during thecounting procedure.

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Table 1: Allocation of domestic observers to the polling stationsby the BEG

NGO

AROLIDGADDOLADOLIRDOCTSocietatea Timi§oaraPro Democrajia

TotalSource: BEC Internet site

totalobservers

1,3642,2635,2971,483

1562,927

13,490

mainobservers

1,0521,8344,7161,201142

2,616

11,561

substituteobservers

312429581282

14311

1,919

substituteobservers %

23191119911

14

Map 1: Second round of Romanian presidential election, November1996, showing winner of largest share of the vote by county

OGEA

Key:ConstantinescuIliescu

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11. As an example, seeCălin Ligia, 'Observatorii"fantomă" vorsupraveghea alegerile',22,23-29 October 1996,p.10.

Another confidence building mechanism introduced into the electoralprocess is the facility for domestic observers to be present at the polls.Over the years this has been one of the more contentious features of theRomanian electoral process and 1996 was no exception, as right upuntil the eve of the elections considerable confusion persisted over theassignment of observers to polling stations and their access to thecounting process. In the past, the majority of observers have comefrom the Pro Democrajia Association and the League for the Defence ofHuman Rights (LADO), but in 1996 several other lesser known groupsmade a determined effort to supplant their dominance. Quicklyallegations were raised that these other groups were a political devicedesigned to undermine the scrutiny of the polls, since the law whichpermitted only one domestic observer at each polling station meantthat after the places were allocated by ballot only just over half werecovered by Pro Democrapa or LADO members (see Table i).11 To meetcriticisms that many of these observers from the other groups werebogus and would not attend the polls a procedure was initiated bywhich a substitute observer from another NGO could be registered ifthe nominated observer did not arrive on the polling day. However, asproportionately more of the nominated substitutes were from thesuspect organisations this move contributed little to defusing theproblem. The whole issue caused much comment prior to the electionsand afterwards LADO and Pro Democra£a continued to allege that fewobservers had been seen from the 'phantom organisations'.

The results

Table 2: Presidential candidates gaining over 1 % of the firstround vote on 3 November 1996

CandidateIon IliescuEmil ConstantinescuPetre RomanGyorgy FrundaCorneliu Vadim TudorGheorghe FunarTudor Mohora

partyPDSRCDRUSD

UDMRPRM

PUNRPS

vote %32.2528.2120.546.024.723.221.27

Table 3: Result of the presidential second round vote on17 November 1996:

CandidateIon IliescuEmil Constantinescu

partyPDSRCDR

vote %45.5954.41

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12. The USD also seemsto have been popularamongst first-timevoters as many in Vasluicounty declared toDennis Deletant thatthey favoured this party(see also Table 5).13. Constantinescu wassomewhat surprisinglyeven endorsed by theSocialist Party. OfRoman's vote 40%seems to have opted forIliescu in the secondround with 10%abstaining. A sizeablenumber of PDSR voters,around 10%, also seemto have voted forConstantinescu on the17 November. SeeMichael Shafir, 'Optingfor political change',Transition, 27 December1996, p.15

Table 4: Parties gaining over 1 % of the vote in the elections forthe Romanian parliament on 3 November 1996

Senate

PartyCDRPDSRUSDUDMRPRMPUNRPSPSMAN-LPPRPSMRSource: BEC Internet Site

vote %30.7023.0813.166.814.544.222.262.161.921.451.33

seats5341231187

Chamber of Deputiesvote %

30.1721.5212.936.644.464.362.922.151.571.441.73

seats1229153251918----_

Key to parties:CDR. = Democratic Convention of Romania; PDSR = Party of Social Democracy in Romania; USD =Social Democratic Union; UDMR = Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania; PRM = GreaterRomania Party; PUNR = Party of Romanian National Unity; PS = Socialist Party; PSM = SocialistLabour Party; AN-L = National-Liberal Alliance; PPR = Pensioners Party of Romania; PSMR =Romanian Socialist Labour Party.

As can be clearly seen from the results, the elections were a triumph forthe CDR and its leader Emil Constantinescu, the former rector ofBucharest University. Not only did he secure the presidency but thenew ruling CDR-USD-UDMR coalition under Prime Minister VictorCiorbea enjoyed a clear majority in both houses of parliament - by 57votes in the lower house and 31 in the upper house. Strikingly, the CDRseems to have not only achieved success within its traditionalconstituencies, such as urban professionals and students, but even tohave secured a greater proportion of the workers' vote than the PDSR(Table 6). In contrast, the greatest proportion of the PDSR vote seemsto have come from the elderly and those who lived in the countryside.The elections were also a great personal success for Petre Roman whogained 20.54% in the first presidential poll, whilst his USD coalitionconsolidated itself as the third force in Romanian politics. The USDseems to have been particularly successful in attracting electors fromthe PDSR (Table 5).12 In the second ballot for the presidency about halfof those who voted for Roman in the first round seem to have heededhis instructions and voted for Constantinescu, who also gained the vastmajority of the Hungarian vote after a similar endorsement by Frunda.13

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14. In the IRSOP-IFESexit poll 79% of theelectorate declared thatthey wanted a change.

Table 5: How voters changed their preferences between 1992and 1996

Preferences in % of CDR and USD voters in 1992CDR PDSR" USD" Others New voters

4914

2542

1419

1111

1014

Preferences in %of voters in 1996CDRUSDa. In 1992 standing as the FDSNb. In 1992 standing as the FSNSource: IRSOP-IFES exit poll

In part the vote for the Convention can be judged to have been anegative vote against the previous Vacaroiu regime and its poorhandling of the economy. The catch phrase seemingly on everybody'slips during the campaign was 'it's time for a change'.14 In the pastIliescu had successfully been able to distance himself from theperformance of the government, but this time he does not seem to havebeen able to avoid being tarred with the same brush of failure, as thevast majority of Romanians contemplated a future with no realeconomic upturn yet in sight.

Fears about a low turnout for the polls proved groundless with over70% voting on each of the polling days. Nevertheless, despite someattempts to boost turnout in rural areas by tractor competitions, itcould be that many of the natural supporters of Iliescu and the PDSRstayed at home. Certainly, a clear pattern emerged on 17 November ofthe constituencies registering the lowest turnout recording the greatestvote for Iliescu, whilst those with the highest turnout tended to vote forConstantinescu, often by a large margin. The highest turnout of84.02% on 3 November was in the Hungarian dominated county ofHargita and on the 17 November this actually increased to 86.96%when an impressive 91.5% of the county cast their vote forConstantinescu. The lowest turnout on the 3 November was recordedin Galap, where only 60.14% of the population bothered to vote, andthis low figure may in part explain why Constantinescu and theConvention gained an unexpected victory in a county which, with its bigsteelworks, was previously known as a bastion of socialist support.

The pattern of CDR gains and PSDR losses was repeated across thecountry, with the CDR recording a gain of fifteen percentage points ormore on its 1992 vote in thirteen of the 42 constituencies. However, thePDSR recorded an equivalent loss in only four constituencies and withthe USD vote holding firm this would suggest that the CDR gatheredmost of its extra support either from those parties which failed to crossthe electoral threshold in 1992 or from first-time voters. In general, theelections saw a polarisation of Romanian politics as most votersrestricted their choice to one of the leading parties. Leaving aside those

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Hungarian areas, where there was a high vote for the UDMR, in mostconstituencies over 70% of the total vote was cast for the two leadingparties - in Bucharest they totalled 76.07% of the vote between them.

Table 6: Voting patterns within key groups

Party GDR PDSR USD UDMR PUNR OthersGroup18-24 yr.olds

65+

Entrepreneurs

Students

Workers

Peasants

Urban

Rural

Source: IRSOP-IFES exit poll

3524

48443218

4326

1742

11102153

1634

147

11141311

1111

89

8696

68

73

3763

54

1915

1919199

1917

Important regional divisions were again evident in the vote. Most ofthe north and west of the country once more recorded firm support forConstantinescu and the Convention, whilst the poorer rural areas of thesouth and east tended to side with Iliescu and the PDSR. However,within these broad parameters there were some interesting shifts in thevoting patterns of 1992. Of the fourteen constituencies where the PDSRlost more than ten percentage points of its vote for the Chamber ofDeputies, all but five were in the east of the country (Moldavia, easternMuntenia and Dobrogea). In contrast, the PDSR managed to defend itspolitical base in Oltenia and other parts of Muntenia, actually recordinga 3% gain on its vote in Calara§i and suffering few losses from a highbase in Gorj, Valcea and Olt. Bucking the national trend it alsoincreased its vote in NeamJ and Hunedoara. However, theaforementioned tendency for the vote to polarise between the mainparties meant that, despite the relatively good showing of the PDSR inOltenia, the CDR did even better gaining the greatest share of the votefor both houses of parliament in the counties of Valcea, Mehedinji andDolj as well as for the Senate in Arge§. In these areas the Conventionseems to have not only consolidated its vote in the main urban centresbut also to have made important gains in the smaller towns and thecountryside, although overall in rural areas the PDSR still remaineddominant as it seems to have collected 53% of the peasant vote(Table 6). In the countryside the main issue remains the division ofcollectivised land, and party alignment often seems to be determined bythe local prospects for a settlement of this contentious question. Aslight tendency does seem to exist for wealthier villages to favour the

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15. Tom Gallagher,'Romania: The DisputedElection of 1990',Parliamentary Affairs, 44:1(January 1991), p.93.16. Letter to theIndependent by DennisDeletant, 27 September1992.

Convention, but usually it seems to be the personality of the mayor thatdetermines a smaller community's political orientation. In general, theConvention seems to have built on its successes in the local elections toform its own grass roots patronage network and this process can beexpected to increase now it has the power to appoint its own prefects.

One commentator on the disputed Romanian elections of 1990wrote that 'signs already point to Romania having more in commonwith Latin America or post-Shah Iran than with the rest ofdemocratising Europe'.15 Similar doubts were also voiced about thefairness of the September 1992 poll by one of the authors when in aletter to the Independent he concluded that 'the sum of these unansweredquestions and unrectified anomalies in the count give any claim thatthe elections of 27 September were "reasonably free and fair" a hollowring'.16 By comparison, the elections of November 1996 were conductedin an efficient and fair manner. In the experience of the authors and ofthe other UK observers, who formed part of a six-person observationteam, no attempts were made to manipulate the outcome of theelections and the result fully reflected the will of the Romanianelectorate.

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