Romania votes in a general election marked by pandemic

Bucharest, Dec 6 (efe-epa).- About 19 million Romanians resident inside and outside the country go to the polls Sunday to elect a parliament from which a new government will emerge, in unprecedented elections marked by the Covid-19 pandemic and with the ruling NLP party as the favorite.

Polling stations opened their doors at 7 am local time (05:00 GMT) and will remain open until 9 pm (07:00 GMT), although closing may be delayed until midnight where there are crowds or logistical problems that might make voting difficult.

To avoid coronavirus infections, voters will have to disinfect their hands and keep a safe distance apart of at least 1 meter while waiting in queues. Despite this, the parties are concerned that the fear of infection will lead to a drop in voter turnout.

So that everyone who wants to cast a vote, but might be hindered due to virus restrictions in force, is able to, the government will allow citizens with the right to vote to move around outside their homes until 1 am instead of until 11 pm, which is when the curfew – decreed to avoid flare-ups at parties – begins.

The ruling National Liberal Party (PNL) starts as a favorite, albeit not far ahead of its Social Democratic Party rivals. According to the polls, the PNL should obtain around 30 percent of the votes, closely followed by the opposition SDP and the USR-PLUS reformist alliance.

The country’s president, the conservative Klaus Iohannis, asked the PNL last week to prepare to form a coalition government with USR-PLUS, which is part of the Renew Europe Group in the European Parliament.

This coalition would allow the current prime minister and PNL leader Ludovic Orban to obtain a new mandate, this time with a more solid parliamentary support than that of the minority government that he has led since October when the Social Democratic Party government lost a no-confidence vote in the legislature. EFE-EPA


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