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Elections

Projections: Romania's ruling coalition wins landslide

Early projections are indicating that Prime Minister Victor Ponta's center-left alliance has waltzed to an absolute majority in parliamentary elections. These early results conform with opinion polls prior to the ballot.

Prime Minister Victor Ponta said on Sunday that his center-left alliance had won a stable majority with which to govern, as exit polls suggested that his Social Liberal Union (USL) had comfortably beaten its closest challengers.

"We have a huge advantage. Starting tomorrow, we can talk projects for the next four years … because we have peace and stability," Ponta told reporters in his home constituency of Targu Jiu inthe west of the country.

A string of exit polls, one of which was published on public television station TVR, gave the USL between 54 and 58 percent of the vote, with President Traian Basescu's Right Romania Alliance (ARD) a distant second at about 18-19 percent support.

Television personality Dan Diaconescu and his People's Party were in third place with between 10 and 13 percent. The group was making its debut on the electoral scene with policies broadly labeled as populist, including deep tax cuts across the board for the heavily indebted country, which is seeking fresh emergency loans from the International Monetary Fund.

Basescu, who as president is tasked with asking a politician to form a new government based on the election results, has an at best uneasy relationship with the prime minister. Ponta tried to impeach Basescu through the Romanian courts in July of this year, just two months after he took up the post of premier.

The uneasy power share has slowed negotiations with the IMF for fresh financial assistance.

First official results from the Romanian ballot are not due until Monday; just over 18 million people were eligible to vote.

msh/pfd (AP, dpa, Reuters)