2009 Romanian presidential election

Presidential elections were held in Romania in 2009. The first round took place on 22 November, with a run-off round between the top two candidates Traian Băsescu and Mircea Geoană on 6 December 2009. Although most exit polls suggested a win for Geoană in the runoff, the authorities declared Băsescu the narrow victor with 50.33% of the votes.[1][2] To date, it is the closest election in Romanian history.

2009 Romanian presidential election

 2004 22 November 2009 (first round)
6 December 2009 (second round)
Turnout54.37% (first round)
58.02% (second round)
Nominee Traian Băsescu Mircea Geoană
Party Independent PSD
Alliance PDL
Popular vote 5,275,808 5,205,760
Percentage 50.33% 49.67%

President before election

Traian Băsescu

Elected President

Traian Băsescu

The opposition contested the results, citing a "high number of void ballots, modified voting protocols, and massive electoral tourism", vowing to challenge the result in the constitutional court.[3][4] The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) declared that the election "was held generally in line with OSCE commitments",[5] but also urged the authorities to investigate claims of fraud.[6] On 8 December, the Social Democratic Party submitted a request to annul and repeat the run-off to the Constitutional Court, claiming it had been rigged.[7] On 14 December, the Constitutional Court rejected the request after recounting all the annulled votes.[8]

A referendum was held alongside the first round of voting on introducing a unicameral parliament of up to 300 deputies (replacing the existing bicameral parliament) and reducing the number of MPs to 300 but retaining the bicameral structure.


There were twelve candidates of which three ran as independents.[9] The candidates of the major parties were: the incumbent Traian Băsescu (formally independent, but supported by Democratic Liberal Party (PDL) 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))[10] and Corneliu Vadim Tudor (Greater Romania Party (PRM)).[11][12] Mayor of Bucharest Sorin Oprescu (formerly PSD member) announced his candidacy as an independent candidate on 5 October 2009;[13] Băsescu also had been mayor of Bucharest before becoming president.[14]

Radu, Prince of Hohenzollern-Veringen, husband of Princess Margarita of Romania first announced his candidacy to the office of President on 9 April 2009,[15] but later withdrew.[16][17]

Name Lifespan Public Administration Experience Affiliation and endorsements Alma mater and profession Candidacy
Announcement dates

Traian Băsescu
Born: 4 November 1951
(age 58)
Basarabi, Constanța County
President of Romania (2004–election day)
Mayor of Bucharest (2000–2004)
Deputy (1992–2000)
Minister of Transport (1991–1992, 1996–1998, 1998–2000)
Sub-Secretary of State for Naval Transportation with the Ministry of Transport (1990–1991)
Director of Civil Navigation Inspectorate with the Ministry of Transport (1989–1990)
Former presidential election:
2004: 33.9% (2nd place, 1st round), 51.2% (winner, 2nd round)
Affiliation: PDL Mircea cel Bătrân Naval Academy (1976)


Mircea Geoană
Born: 14 July 1958
(age 51)
President of the Senate of Romania (2008–election day)
Senator (2004–election day)
Minister of Foreign Affairs (2000–2004)
Romanian Ambassador to USA (1996–2000)
Affiliation: Electoral Alliance PSD + PUR Faculty of Mechanics, Politehnica University of Bucharest (1983)
Faculty of Law, University of Bucharest (1993)


Crin Antonescu
Born: 21 September 1959
(age 50)
Tulcea, Tulcea County
Senator (2008–election day)
Minister of Youth and Sport (1997–2000)
Deputy (1992–2008)
Affiliation: PNL Faculty of History and Philosophy, University of Bucharest (1985)

history teacher, museum curator

Corneliu Vadim Tudor
Born: 28 November 1949
(age 59)
Died: 14 September 2015, Bucharest
MEP (2009–election day)
Senator (1992–2008)

Former presidential elections:
2004: 12.6% (3rd place, 1st round)
2000: 28.3% (2nd place, 1st round), 33.2% (2nd place, 2nd round)
1996: 4.7% (5th place, 1st round)
Affiliation: PRM Faculty of Philosophy, University of Bucharest (1971)

journalist, writer

Kelemen Hunor
18 October 1967
(age 42)
Cârța, Harghita County
Deputy (2000–election day)
Secretary of State with the Minister of Culture (1997–2000)
Affiliation: UDMR University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine of Cluj-Napoca (1993),
Faculty of Philosophy, Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca (1998)

veterinarian, philosophy teacher

Sorin Oprescu
Born: 7 November 1951
(age 58)
Mayor of Bucharest (2008–election day)
Senator (2000–2008)
Affiliation: none Carol Davila University of Medicine and Pharmacy (1976)


Gigi Becali
Born: 25 June 1958
(age 51)
Vădeni, Brăila County
MEP (2009–election day)

Former presidential election:
2004: 1.8% (6th place, 1st round)
Affiliation: PNG-CD "Iuliu Maniu" High-school, Bucharest (1978)

shepherd, football club owner

Remus Cernea
Born: 25 June 1974
(age 35)
Affiliation: Green Party Faculty of Philosophy, University of Bucharest (2002)

civic activist

Constantin Rotaru
Born: 23 July 1955
(age 54)
Dănicei, Vâlcea County
Deputy (1992–1996) Affiliation: Socialist Alliance Party unknown education


Eduard Manole
Born: 21 March 1964
(age 45)
Constanța, Constanța County
Former presidential election:
2000: 1.2% (8th place, 1st round)
Affiliation: none Faculty of Physics, University of Bucharest (unknown year)


Ovidiu-Cristian Iane
Born: 12 October 1970
(age 39)
Craiova, Dolj County
Affiliation: PER Faculty of International Economic Relations, Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies (unknown year)
Faculty of Political Sciences, Bucharest (unknown year)


Constantin-Ninel Potîrcă
Born: 20 November 1967
(age 42)
Târgu-Jiu, Gorj County
Affiliation: none unknown studies

used iron recycler


First round

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.[18] 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.[19]

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.[18] 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.[18]

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.[18] 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[19] 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.

Second round

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".[20] Antonescu in turn called Băsescu "a demagogue and a populist", and vowed to support Geoană as "the lesser of two evils".[21] Geoană also gained the support of Béla Markó with his UDMR and George Becali with his New Generation Party – Christian Democratic.[citation needed]

Sorin Oprescu decided not to support anyone and Corneliu Vadim Tudor with his PRM—at national level—called his voters to boycott the runoff round; however the PRM in Sibiu county decided to support Geoană.[22][23][24][25][26] Geoană announced he would nominate Klaus Iohannis as prime minister if he won.[27]

Geoană promised to appoint Klaus Iohannis as Prime Minister of Romania if he was elected president. Iohannis 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.[citation needed]

Opinion polls

Note: Opinion polls have been criticised in this election for their unreliability, with large differences in results obtained between different polling agencies.[28][29]

First round

Polling Firm Date Source Băsescu Geoană Antonescu Oprescu Tudor Kelemen Others Undecided
GSS 16 May 2009 30.8% 24.3% 20.3% 5.5% N/A 7.8% 5%
CURS 26 June 2009 36% 24% 20% 11% 2% 3% N/A
INSOMAR 12 July 2009 35.7% 29.6% 16.8% 11.9% N/A N/A N/A
Gallup Romania 16–20 July 2009 35% 18% 20% 10% 3% N/A N/A
CCSB 17–19 September 2009 34% 18% 19% 12% 7% 1% N/A N/A
INSOMAR 8–11/10/09 33.4% 28.5% 14.5% 8.1% 6.1% 4.3% N/A N/A
CSOP 16–18 October 2009 35% 24% 19% 8% 4% 4% N/A N/A
CURS 15–22 October 2009 31% 30% 17% 9% 5% 4% 4% N/A
BCS 19 October 2009 31.3% 21.9% 23.8% 10.4% 3.7% 3.8% 5.1% N/A
Operations Research 20–23 October 2009 31% 21% 22% 12% 6% 29/10-1/11 /09 6%
INSOMAR 29/10–1/11 /09 30% 32% 19% 6% 7% 3% 5.1% N/A
Gallup Romania 01–03/11/09 32.5% 21.5% 21.5% 11% 5% 2.5% N/A
CCSB 3 November 2009 [permanent dead link] 34% 30% 18% 14% 3% 1% 1%
INSOMAR 9 November 2009 31% 32% 18% 5% 6% 5% N/A
CCSB 11 November 2009 34% 31% 16% 10% 4% 3% 2%
Operations Research 15 November 2009 30% 23% 26% 8% 6% 4% 3%
CSOP 18 November 2009 37% 27% 20% 6% 3% 5% 2%
Operations Research 19 November 2009 [permanent dead link] 32,5% 23,5% 24,5% 7% 6% 4% 2,5%
Exit polls
Polling Firm Source Băsescu Geoană Antonescu Tudor Kelemen Oprescu
CSOP Gândul 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 52% 48%
CCSB 27 July 2009 53% 47%
CCSB 3 October 2009 47% 53%
CSOP 7 October 2009 53% 47%
INSOMAR 8–11/10/09 49.4% 50.6%
CURS 26 October 2009 50% 50%
INSOMAR 29/10–1/11 /09 47% 53%
CCSB 3 November 2009 [permanent dead link] 46% 54%
INSOMAR 6–9/11 /09 47% 53%
INSOMAR 28–29/11 /09 46% 54%
Exit polls
Polling Firm Date Source Băsescu Geoană
INSOMAR 21:00 6 /12 /09 48.8% 51.2%
CSOP 21:00 6 /12 /09 50.4% 49.6%
CURS 21:00 6 /12 /09 49.3% 50.7%
CCSB 21:00 6 /12 /09 49% 51%


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

Both runoff candidates declared themselves winners after tight exit polls.[30][31] 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%.[32] 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%.[33] A majority of 78.86% the votes from abroad, fully counted in this tally, went for Băsescu (115,831 to 31,045).[1][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]

Candidate Party First round Second round
Votes % Votes %
Traian BăsescuDemocratic Liberal Party3,153,64032.445,275,80850.33
Mircea GeoanăSocial Democratic Party3,027,83831.155,205,76049.67
Crin AntonescuNational Liberal Party1,945,83120.02
Corneliu Vadim TudorGreater Romania Party540,3805.56
Hunor KelemenDemocratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania372,7613.83
Sorin OprescuIndependent309,7643.18
George BecaliNew Generation Party186,3901.91
Remus CerneaGreen Party60,5390.62
Constantin RotaruSocialist Alliance Party43,6840.45
Gheorghe-Eduard ManoleIndependent34,1890.35
Ovidiu-Cristian IaneEcologist Party of Romania22,5150.23
Constantin-Ninel PotîrcăIndependent21,3060.21
Invalid/blank votes227,446138,476
Registered voters/turnout18,293,27754.3718,303,22458.02
Source: ROAEP
32.44% 16.39% 20.02% 31.15%
Traian Băsescu (PDL) Others C. Antonescu (PNL) Mircea Geoană (PSD)

Crin Antonescu openly endorsed Mircea Geoană in the second round.

50.33% 49.67%
Traian Băsescu (PDL) Mircea Geoană (PSD)


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.[38] 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".[39] Former Prime Minister Adrian Năstase and former President Ion Iliescu, both PSD members, also stated that they doubted the results.[citation needed]

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,[38] while Crin Antonescu also stated that the Liberal Party excludes "any participation in a Traian Băsescu puppet government".[40]

Constitutional Court proceedings

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.[41] 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.[42]

On 14 December, the Constitutional Court rejected the request to repeat the presidential elections, paving the way to validate Băsescu's election.[43] The same day, Geoană admitted defeat and wished Băsescu good luck in his second term in office.[44]


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Further reading