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Last Updated: Monday, 13 December 2004, 13:44 GMT
Profile: Traian Basescu
Traian Basescu
Basescu's anti-corruption drive appealed to many voters
The winner of the Romanian presidential poll, 53-year-old Traian Basescu, campaigned on a tough anti-corruption platform and has a reputation for being outspoken and down-to-earth.

Born near Romania's main sea port of Constanta, Mr Basescu pursued a career as a sailor and commanded the biggest ship in the Romanian fleet for six years. He was a rank-and-file communist party member.

After the bloody 1989 Romanian revolution which toppled communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, Mr Basescu got involved in politics and served as transport minister in the 1990s.

In 2000 he became the mayor of Romania's capital, Bucharest, where he embarked on a programme of rapid renovation in the decaying city.

His can-do image is reflected in a record of improvements for Bucharest, some of them achieved in unorthodox ways.

He led a crackdown on stray dogs and urban eyesores.

"I am elected by the people of Bucharest, not the dogs," he said, scornfully dismissing the complaints of Western animal rights activists.

When the government blocked his plans for a new overpass and better central heating for the city, he went over their heads and asked citizens to sign a petition, shaming the officials into caving in.

Orange power

He is one of the few Romanian politicians bold enough to speak up for gay rights - an issue his opponents tried to use against him in the run-up to the election.

Mr Basescu's campaign had echoes of that of Viktor Yushchenko - the opposition presidential candidate in neighbouring Ukraine, who brought thousands of people onto the streets to protest against alleged election abuses.

As in Ukraine, the Romanian opposition made orange their main colour and the Ukrainian "Tak!" ("Yes") became the Romanian "Da!" as their main slogan.

Although the ruling the ex-communist Social Democratic Party (PSD) took Romania into Nato and prepared the ground for the country to join the EU in 2007, Mr Basescu is seen as a more pro-Western candidate.

Unlike his opponents, whom he accuses of widespread corruption, Mr Basescu is not associated with the old communist regime. His victory is likely to be applauded in most Western capitals.

He has long been seen as the main challenger to the dominant PSD.

Almost all of the votes have been counted

Romania upholds election result
01 Dec 04 |  Europe
Country profile: Romania
12 Dec 04 |  Country profiles

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