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Tuesday, 28 November, 2000, 23:17 GMT
Warnings of 'machine-gun rule' in Romania
iliescu
Ion Iliescu: Far right will isolate Romania
Romania's former president Ion Iliescu has warned that ultra nationalist Corneliu Vadim Tudor would "govern the country with a machine gun".

In an initial round of voting on Sunday's presidential elections, Mr Tudor won 28.4%, with Iliescu on 36.7%.

The result raised fears that Mr Tudor, who had scored less than 5% in the last poll, in 1996, could snatch the presidency in the second round on 10 December.

Results
PDSR
36.7% - president
37% - parliament
Greater Romania
28.4% - president
20% - parliament
Liberals
Approx 10%

A simultaneous parliamentary vote, which will not lead to a second round, also brought major gains for Mr Tudor's Greater Romania Party (Romania Mare, or PRM).

Mr Iliescu spoke of the need to "halt the rise of extremism and xenophobia in Romania" and said a far-right victory would "isolate Romania internationally".

tudor
Corneliu Vadim Tudor: Major gains
Mr Iliescu called on three moderate parties - the National Liberal Party (PNL), the Democratic Union of Romanian Magyars (UDMR) and the Democratic Party (PD) of former prime minister Petre Roman - to support his presidential bid and agree to a one-year non-aggression pact in parliament.

The leader of one of the parties, Valeriu Stoica of the PNL, said his party could accept the offer, and called for talks between the four groups.

In the parliamentary poll, the PDSR came in first with more than 37%, followed by Mr Tudor's PRM with 20%.

This left the PDSR needing support from the smaller parties to pass legislation.

Little progress

Correspondents say the ruling coalition's bad showing is an reflection of the poor economy and will be a blow to the country's chances of joining the European Union.

These are the fourth general elections since the overthrow of communism 11 years ago.

Economic hardship
Inflation: 45%
Nearly half of Romanians live on less than $30 a month
Average monthly salary: about $90
Unemployment: 9.8%

Unlike most of the other former communist countries in central and eastern Europe, Romania has made little progress in the past decade in privatising its economy and attracting foreign investment.

Two-thirds of employees still work in big state-owned companies and the vast majority of these are loss-making.

Huge sums are spent each year in keeping steel and arms companies afloat - companies which employ tens of thousands of workers but have few or no orders on their books.

Privatisation in Romania is now accelerating, but the new government will need to guarantee stability to attract more investment from abroad.

And, while the new administration will benefit from the proceeds, it may face the anger of those made unemployed as factories cut back.

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See also:

28 Nov 00 | Europe
Romania's far-right contender
31 May 00 | Europe
Bank crisis 'threat' to Romania
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