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Romania’s Iliescu Wins Election

December 12, 2000

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) _ Final results showed President-elect Ion Iliescu soundly defeated an ultranationalist whose racist and extremist statements threatened to isolate Romania from mainstream Europe.

Iliescu won 67 percent of Sunday’s ballots to Corneliu Vadim Tudor’s 33 percent, according to results published Tuesday by the central electoral bureau.

The victory by the former communist who governed Romania from 1990 to 1996 was greeted with relief at home and by Romania’s neighbors concerned about instability had Tudor won. Tudor made a name for himself under Nicolae Ceausescu by writing poetry praising the late communist dictator and then became known for his anti-Semitic and racist publications.

Much of Iliescu’s lopsided victory was due to the support of voters who normally would have backed a centrist candidate. But after their favorites were eliminated in a first round in November, they opted for Iliescu, despite his communist past, considering him a lesser evil than Tudor.

Tudor, 51 has often railed against the Hungarians, the country’s largest minority of 1.7 million, saying he would make their party illegal.

Tudor only won one of Romania’s 41 counties. He scored about 54 percent of the vote in Bistrita Nasaud, a poor Transylvanian county and the birthplace of several nationalist writers.

Iliescu hopes to formal take office next week.

He has asked former Foreign Minister Adrian Nastase to try to form a minority government from his leftist Party of Social Democracy, which won about 37 percent support in Nov. 26 parliamentary elections. Tudor’s Greater Romania party got about 20 percent.

Members of the three centrist parties in Parliament said they were worried because Iliescu’s party had named Ioan Solcanu, considered a member of the anti-reform wing of the party, as majority leader in the 140-seat Senate.

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