International - POSTED: 2009/12/14 09:51
Many Romanians had hoped this election would lift the country out of political crisis, help it shake its reputation for corruption, and allow it to climb out of its worst recession in 20 years.
Instead, it has plunged the country into even deeper turmoil.
The opposition is charging the presidency has been stolen by fraud. A euro1.5 billion ($2 billion) international loan probably won't be delivered. And some in the business community fear the scandal will scare off the foreign investment the country so badly needs.
Results in Sunday's presidential runoff election showed that the incumbent, Traian Basescu, eked out the slimmest of victories: The Central Electoral Bureau said he took 50.33 percent of the vote to 49.66 percent for his challenger, former Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana.
Three exit polls had forecast a victory for Geoana, albeit a narrow one.
Geoana has charged he was robbed of the presidency by "deliberately organized massive fraud." He said his Social Democratic Party has evidence of ballot stuffing and multiple voting — both inside Romania and abroad, where he lost heavily to Basescu.
Thousands of fictitious personal identity numbers were created, Geoana said. He said his party has evidence that, in one instance, hundreds of voters shared one address — that of a small house in Bucharest.