Romanian president Traian Basescu saw his support fall five weeks before a November presidential election, an opinion poll showed, signalling some voters blamed him for a government crisis this month.
Although the survey, by pollster INSOMAR, showed Basescu still in the lead, it suggested for the first time in the run-up to the ballot, that he may lose the race in a second round if he fails to win a majority in the first.
Public support for leftist leader Mircea Geoana rose to 28.5% from 24% in the previous poll, while Basescu’s fell to 33.5% from 37%.
Geoana appeared poised to win the vote in the runoff, which will pit two highest scorers on December 6, with 50.6% against Basescu’s 49.4%.
Under Romanian law, the president has the power to nominate prime ministers and whoever wins the election will have a large say in the shape of the next government.
If Basescu wins, he will likely support the ousted Democrat Liberals of outgoing Prime Minister Emil Boc.
Geoana would likely push for a cabinet created by the Social Democrats (PSD).
The PSD suddenly quit the ruling coalition this month and later teamed up with the rest of the opposition to topple the government in parliament, accusing the ousted centrists closely linked to Basescu of inadequately fighting the recession.
Earlier this week, Basescu nominated respected central banker Lucian Croitoru as next prime minister, arguing his involvement in negotiating Romania’s 20bn euro ($29.85bn) aid package from the International Monetary Fund would help guarantee aid is continued.
But Croitoru has limited chances of winning parliamentary approval, meaning a stable government is likely to be in place only after the presidential election.
Up until this survey Basescu, a former sea captain, was seen as a comfortable winner, drawing support for his straight-talking attitude and centrist economic policy views.
However, he has lost many supporters since winning the 2004 election because of his confrontational style.
The poll was conducted during October 8-11, after the coalition split but several days before parliament toppled the minority government.
“People found Basescu guilty for the collapse of the coalition and implicitly for the political instability that followed,” political analyst Mircea Marian said.