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Thursday, September 09, 2004
Business in Romania blog
BUCHAREST, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Romania amended its election law on Tuesday to
allow President Ion Iliescu to run for the senate in the Balkan country's
November elections, a move decried by opposition parties as "shameful."

Iliescu, 74, who ends his second and final term as president after the
elections, will run as an independent on the list of the ruling Social Democratic
Party (PSD) which he founded after the 1989 fall of communism.

Parliament, which is dominated by the PSD, approved the election law change,
but the two main opposition parties walked out in protest.

The centrist opposition says the move is unconstitutional because, even
though Iliescu proposes to stand as an independent, his candidacy on PSD's ticket
will undoubtedly boost the image of the party, which fared badly in local polls.

Romania's constitution says the president must be non-partisan until he ends
his term.

"It's shameful, it's against the constitution. The single aim of this law is
to bring back Iliescu and improve PSD's election chances," Octavian Hanganu, a
senator of the opposition Democrat Party said.

VOTE BOYCOTTED

Parliament voted on Tuesday to add a paragraph to the existing election law
saying "the incumbent president of the country can run as an independent on a
party's list."

The Democrats and the Liberals, who are running joint candidates as an
alliance in November, boycotted the vote.

But they said they had no plans to mount a legal challenge.

Opinion polls show the alliance gaining ground ahead of the simultaneous
parliamentary and presidential Nov. 28 elections.

Analysts said the PSD was desperate to improve its appeal. Iliescu remains
popular in the countryside and appears untarnished from corruption allegations
dogging other PSD politicians.

"It's a scandal, this is an abuse. It's a law made for the sake of a single
man and not for the people," independent political analyst Stelian Tanase told
Reuters. "The PSD desperately need Iliescu on their lists to have a chance to
win the election."

Moscow-educated Iliescu resigned as party leader shortly after winning the
2000 elections to conform with the constitution. He will return as party head
after the elections.

He enjoyed almost nationwide popularity immediately after the December 1989
revolution when Stalinist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was deposed and executed.

But his opponents accuse him of stealing the revolution from the people and
orchestrating post-revolutionary political violence.

In June 1990, a month after the first democratic elections, Iliescu summoned
20,000 coalminers to crush demonstrations against his ruling National
Salvation Front (NSF) in Bucharest. Six people were killed and more than 100 injured.

He branded the opposition as "hooligans" but Western countries blamed him for
the bloodshed and treated him as a international pariah for years.

Posted by Mihai Botea : 9/09/2004 04:43:00 pm Shameful - Romania amended its election law
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