The ruling Social Liberal Union alliance - consisting of Ponta’s Social Democratic Party (PSD, PES-affiliated) and Crin Antonescu’s National Liberal Party (PNL, ALDE-affiliated) - could get 60% of the vote, according to a survey cited by the Agerpres agency.
The poll gives Băsescu’s Right Romania Alliance (ARD) 15% of the vote. ARD includes the Democratic Liberal party (PDL) the president founded, Mihai Răzvan Ungureanu’s Civic Force Party (PFC) and the Christian-Democratic National Peasants’ Party (PNŢ-CD).
The biggest surprise might come from the Peoples’ Party of TV mogul Dan Diaconescu, which the survey showed gaining nearly 15% of the vote. The populist Diaconescu promises to slash the VAT from 24% to 10% and give €20,000 to budding entrepreneurs.
For the first time in recent history, the Democratic Hungarian Union of Romania (URMR) may not enter Parliament, as it could prove unable to pass the 6% threshold.
The Romanian constitution gives the president the power to choose a prime minister and it is far from certain if Băsescu would select Ponta. Last summer, when the two were engaged in a bitter political row, Băsescu said he would not re-name Ponta as premier.
The future of Băsescu as head of state also appears uncertain after the election. Though his term ends in November 2014, it is widely expected that the USL coalition would try to repeat their summer effort to impeach him.
Antonescu, the USL co-leader, has been promised the presidency.
CVM report to come
Romania’s relations with the EU have been under strain since this summer’s political crisis.
The European Commission is readying a report on Romania under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (see background), due to be published before the end of the year. The last Commission report, published on 18 July, suggested that if the country's constitutional order is not respected, Romania could see its voting rights in the EU Council of Ministers suspended.
Under EU pressure, Romania was one of the few EU countries to prevent the EU budget for 2014-2020 from being adopted at a 22-23 November leadership summit. Romania was represented at the summit by Băsescu, with Ponta supporting the president’s position.
Chevron' shale gas at stake?
Another development following the elections could be, according to Reuters, resuming explorations for shale gas, as the current moratorium on shale exploration could be lifted when voter pressure subsides after the vote.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary could have 538 billion cubic metres (bcm) of shale gas between them, slightly more than Europe's annual gas consumption and enough to cover Romania's own for almost 40 years.
Chevron has exploration rights for 270,000 hectares near the Black Sea, and has also bought a much larger concession close to Barlad for an undisclosed amount.
Activists hope all Chevron's exploration rights will be annulled if they can secure an overwhelming majority against shale gas in a non-binding referendum in the Black Sea town of Mangalia, coinciding with the elections.