(Adds analyst, detail)
By Radu-Sorin Marinas and Luiza Ilie
BUCHAREST Dec 13 Romania's President will begin
consulting parties on forming a new government on Wednesday, but
strongly suggested he would not accept the biggest party's
leader as prime minister due to his criminal record.
The Social Democrat Party (PSD) won Sunday's parliamentary
election with about 46 percent of votes, results from 99 percent
of polling stations showed. Its leader, Liviu Dragnea, would be
the obvious choice to lead a new government, but was convicted
this year of electoral fraud and given a two-year suspended
"Integrity criteria in appointing the prime minister remain
in place," President Klaus Iohannis told reporters on Tuesday,
referring to his position that any future prime minister must
not have a criminal record.
"I unveiled these criteria before the start of the electoral
campaign to avoid unnecessary discussions afterwards," he said.
Along with its long-time ally, ALDE, which secured about 6
percent of the vote, the PSD would have a comfortable majority
in parliament. Its promise to put more money in people's pockets
proved more appealing to voters than its rivals' pledges to root
It was unclear whether the PSD would now nominate Dragnea
for prime minister or put forward an alternative candidate.
The new government's progress will be closely watched by the
European Union because of the PSD's softer stance against
corruption and its propensity for higher public spending, which
risks breaching EU budget limits.
Dragnea, 54 remained in his post as party leader despite the
conviction earlier this year for rigging a 2012 referendum.
"Iohannis plays a tough card. He wants to say Dragnea is out
of the question for being nominated for premier," said political
commentator Cristian Patrasconiu.
"He wants to speed up things to form a new cabinet by
Christmas ... let's see if he succeeds. Given their ballot
performance, the PSD has amassed tremendous negotiating powers."
(Editing by Robin Pomeroy)