Basescu re-elected (?)

Reversing the (well within margin of error) exit polls, the official results show that Romanian President Traian Basescu has been reelected. The Social Democratic Party says it will contest the outcome before the Constitutional Court, alleging rigging.

The Central Electoral Bureau reports the result as 50.33% Bsescu to 49.66% Mircea Geoana. That’s close!

7 thoughts on “Basescu re-elected (?)

  1. Actually, one of the four exit polls correctly forecast the runoff vote’s outcome to within 0.1%.

    At any rate, it’s not only the closest-ever outcome of a Romanian presidential election, but also the first time that a presidential runoff in Romania registers a higher voter turnout rate (58%) than the first round (54.4%). Moreover, the number of votes cast in special polling stations (for citizens who are away from their place of residence on election day) appears to be sharply up once more, at least in Bucharest and all but one of the eight counties for which detailed reports are available so far.

    Finally, I put up a page on Presidential and Parliamentary Elections in Romania on my website, which has 2009 presidential election results, including nationwide runoff vote totals; for Romanian election statistics on events held prior to 2004 (which I don’t have on my site as of yet), one print source I’d recommend is Parties and Elections in New European Democracies by Richard Rose & Neil Munro.

  2. In the ongoing political crisis in Romania, President Traian Basescu may have narrowly avoided being impeached, as reported in Spiegel Online (with a curious photoreference to the Olympics), but we won’t know for sure until mid-September.

    It’s hard to argue with Dimitar Bechev’s assertion (quoted by Spiegel)that “Romania is divided into two political tribes. It isn’t a principled political disagreement, it is a dirty war. And it has become very personal.” But it’s the manner of Basescu’s survival which I thought relevant for F&V.

    It’s clear that the referendum vote was overwhelmingly in favour of impeachment. According to the final report (PDF in Romanian) of the Central Electoral Bureau, a resounding 87.52% of the voters chose “Da” (Yes). But on the face of it, the referendum cannot succeed because the turnout was only 46.24%, a little under the 50% required by Romanian law. Basescu had urged his supporters to abstain, which was clearly a better strategy than voting against impeachment. Indeed, had a few more fervent supporters turned out to express that support, they could have ended up allowing the referendum to succeed.

    But, as Nine O’Clock reports, the question is still to be determined by the Constitutional Court, which has demanded that the government produce the voters lists used to compute the turnout. Premier Victor Ponta alleges that the actual voting population of Romania is only 16,527,971, not the 18,292,464 on the BEC’s final report, in which case the turnout of 8,459,053 would be just enough to declare the referendum valid.

    • The BBC, on the morning of the runoff, reported that Ponta had a “commanding lead” from the first round. Obviously, when you are ten percentage points short of what is needed to win, your lead should not be called “commanding”. That is a lot to make up, even if the runner-up by definition has more to make up, and in this case, more than twice as much.

      I would not characterize any given election as “contradicting” the double complement rule, which is nothing but an alternative way to determine winners in multi-candidate races. It is a truism of institutionalist political science that rules shape outcomes, and once in a while someone who won by one rule would not have by another. Note that I am leaving aside the endogeneity issue here, which is the unrealistic assumption that the first-round result would have been the same had there been a general expectation that, under some alternative rule, a runoff would not have been required.

      • Either way, it was a surprising outcome, with the very last polls showing 52% for Ponta, with Ioannis ultimately winning a larger victory than was predicted for Ponta, at 54.5%.

      • OK “contradicts” was the wrong verb – ‘With the double complement rule, Iohannis would not have got a 2nd round opportunity to win” sounds better.

        I always disliked two-round elections in poor unstable countries (Romania is not one): not only is it burdensome to manage a second election shortly after the first, many things can happen in between rounds, changing the ‘probable’ outcome considering the 1st round results, even, in some cases, a coup cancelling the 2nd round (Algeria 1991, Angola 1992, Guinea-Bissau 2012)

  3. Again illustrates the perverse incentives offered by a “turnout quorum” rule. By turning up to the polls to cast a pro-impeachment vote, you can actually help impeachment pass. 49% yes, 1% no and 50% don’t case means the referendum is lost; 26% yes, 25% no and 49% don’t care means the referendum is carried. Italy and Sweden also have this foolish rule.
    Rather than “the referendum passes if 50% of eligible voters cast a ballot and 50% of ballots cast say YES”, much better to adopt a “support quorum” rule along the lines of “the referendum passes if if 50% of voters who cast a ballot, and [say] 33.34% of all eligible voters, say YES”, The quorum should be set somewhere between 30% and 40% so that the minimum percentage of the electorate who must cast a YES ballot will exceed the 25.0001% who could, in theory, pass a successful referendum proposal under a “turnout quorum” rule if 24.999% percent vote NO.
    The proven suckfulness of “turnout quorum” rules should be one of the very few slam-dunks of Comparative Institutional Pol Sci, right up there with the proven suckfulness of SNTV or of at-large MNTV with staggered terms.

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