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Romania: Official Election Results Confirm Opposition Lead

Bucharest, 4 November 1996 (RFE/RL) -- The first official results in Romania's parliamentary election confirm that the anti-communist opposition has taken a strong lead.

With about 20 percent of the votes counted from yesterday's election, the Central Electoral Bureau in Bucharest said the anti-communist Democratic Convention (CDR) won just over 30 percent of the vote for the Lower Chamber of Deputies. The former communists in President Ion Iliescu's Party of Social Democracy had just over 20 percent.

Similar results were reported by the Electoral Bureau in the race for the Upper house, or Senate.

Former Prime Minister Petre Roman's Social Democratic Union was running third in races for both chambers, with about 13 percent support. The ethnic Hungarian party placed fourth with six percent and the Romanian nationalist parties appear to be the only other political group which will get parliamentary representation by meeting a three percent support threshhold.

In the Presidential race, incumbent Iliescu has a three percent lead over CDR leader Emil Constantinescu. Iliescu and Constantinescu will run-off in a second round of voting in two weeks .

Senior Convention officials are already celebrating victory without waiting for results to be confirmed.

Lucian Hossu Longin, a senior CDR member, told Romanian television that people realized a total change was needed after what he called "seven years of pseudo-democracy and neo-communist rule."

"This is a natural reaction because all the promises turned out to be lies and people's lives became worse and worse," he said.

Meanwhile, maneuvering is under way to gain extra support for the two presidential candidates in the runoff. Third-place-finisher Roman said it would be "premature" to announce support for Constantinescu.

Observers from the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said today that Romania's general election yesterday was free and fair, despite problems with its organization.

Geza Jeszenszky, former Hungarian foreign minister and head of a Council of Europe delegation, told a news conference in Bucharest that "as far as we can see now, Romania had free elections, reasonably fair and transparent."

"There was no intimidation or undue influence," he said.

A delegation from the OSCE said earlier today that its monitors who watched over polling have reached the same conclusion. At the same time, Jeszenszky expressed concern about errors in voting lists, and said improvements could be made in counting the votes, which is now mainly done by hand.