The surprise second-round victory of Traian Basescu in Romania's presidential election marks a clear break for a country that hopes to enter the E.U. in 2007. Fifteen years after a revolution brought Romania's communist era to a bloody close, Basescu is the first President to come to power promising to take on the country's entrenched communist-era bureaucracy. Coincidentally, his party colors were the same orange that stirred revolution next door in Ukraine. That may have boosted his chances against ex-Prime Minister Adrian Nastase, the left-wing candidate. Crowds greeted his election with cries of "Down with communism!"
Basescu, a former sea captain and mayor of Bucharest, is known for a populist style and for cleaning up the capital city. He vowed to maintain a high profile despite the limited powers of his office. "I will be a strong President," he told supporters in Bucharest. "I will turn Romania into a nation of winners." Because no party emerged from parliamentary elections last month with a majority, Basescu must choose the country's new Prime Minister. Next, he promises to tackle the country's corruption and cronyism. "He is a fighter," says Adrian Ursu, an editor at the Bucharest daily, Adevarul. "He thrives on conflict.