Bucharest, 20 December 2000 (RFE/RL) -- Leftist Ion Iliescu took office today as Romania's president, promising to ease poverty and steer the country towards European Union membership. Iliescu, a 70-year-old ex-communist who was Romania's first democratically elected leader from 1990-1996, took the presidential oath today at a joint session of the two chambers of parliament. He defeated ultranationalist Corneliu Vadim Tudor in a presidential runoff on December 10 by some 67 to 33 percent. Iliescu's leftist Social Democracy Party (PDSR) won a majority in parliament with some 37 percent of the vote and will form the government. Prime Minster-designate Adrian Nastase is due to announce the new cabinet by December 29.
Iliescu succeeds outgoing President Emil Constantinescu, a right-winger who did not stand for reelection. Romania is trailing behind the other 11 EU candidates.