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Alliance Battle Starts As Romania Heads For Presidential Runoff

Incumbent Romanian President Traian Basescu addresses his supporters after the closing of the polls in Bucharest.
BUCHAREST -- Nearly complete results from Romania's presidential election show center-right President Traian Basescu will face leftist former Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana in a December 6 runoff.

After counting votes from nearly all polling stations, Basescu, from the Democratic Liberal Party, leads with 32.5 percent of the November 22 first-round vote. Geoana, from the ex-communist Social Democrats, has nearly 31 percent.

Crin Antonescu, the candidate of the center-right National Liberal Party (PNL), came third with some 20 percent of the vote.

Geoana said on November 23 that he is willing to form an alliance with Antonescu's Liberals in order to win their support for the second round.

"We are open and interested to establish together with our Liberal partners a political agreement which would permit a political majority [in parliament] after December 6," he said.

Voters also took part in a binding referendum asking if they want to reduce the number of lawmakers in parliament and abolish one of its two houses.

Basescu, who called the referendum, wants a one-chamber parliament with a maximum of 300 lawmakers, down from the current 471. According to partial results, more than 75 percent of voters were in favor of the changes.

Compiled from agency reports