Romania opposition Democrats win 31.5 pct in EU vote

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BUCHAREST, Nov 25 (Reuters) Romania's centrist opposition Democrat party won the country's first election to the European Parliament today with 31.5 per cent of the vote, an exit poll showed.

A survey by independent pollster TNS CSOP, conducted for Realitatea TV television, showed Prime Minister Calin Tariceanu's Liberals trailing behind with 15.6 per cent of the vote.

The Democrats have benefited from the support of popular President Traian Basescu whose straight-talking style seems to have convinced many voters that he is serious about fighting corruption.

''We are the most important political force in Romania,'' said Democrat Party president Emil Boc.

The result strengthens the party's hopes to return to power in next year's parliamentary election after Tariceanu expelled it from the ruling coalition in April.

The coalition of Tariceanu's and Basescu's centrists, which came to power in 2004, was praised initially for introducing vast justice and institutional reforms that won Romania EU entry after botched attempts by other post-communist governments.

However, political bickering has broken the ruling alliance apart and led to a policy gridlock this year.

Reuters AK VP0105

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