- Title: Voting begins in Romania's parliament election, leftists ahead in polls
- Date: 11th December 2016
- Summary: BUCHAREST, ROMANIA (DECEMBER 11, 2016) (REUTERS) WOMAN ENTERING POLLING STATION PEOPLE INSIDE POLLING STATION VARIOUS OF PEOPLE CASTING THEIR BALLOTS (SOUNDBITE) (Romanian) BUCHAREST RESIDENT, NICU, SAYING: "I don't think I'm expecting something in the future, maybe after one hundred years; our grand nephews might have a part of something better." (SOUNDBITE) (Romanian) BUCHAREST RESIDENT, ELENA, SAYING: "I would like to choose somebody who takes care for this country, who love it. To be good for everybody. How is it now? It's very difficult." VARIOUS OF POLLING STATION ENTRANCE
- Embargoed: 26th December 2016 08:48
- Keywords: Romania election Bucharest pollls open
- Location: BUCHAREST, ROMANIA
- City: BUCHAREST, ROMANIA
- Country: Romania
- Reuters ID: LVA0015CFUBEV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Romanians vote in a parliamentary election on Sunday (December 11) that is likely to hand power back to the leftist Social Democrats (PSD), who advocate loose fiscal policy but are seen as permissive about rampant corruption.
Led by Liviu Dragnea, who has received a suspended two-year jail sentence for electoral fraud, the PSD was ousted from government just over a year ago in the wake of a fire in a Bucharest nightclub that killed more than 60 people.
The fire led to a surge of public anger over inept public officials and graft, but widespread calls for reforms have faded in recent months, giving way to resignation about chronic poverty and politicians' unfulfilled promises.
The PSD campaigned on a promise to spend on welfare to address low living standards in much of Romania, which joined the European Union 10 years ago but remains one of the bloc's poorest and least modernised members.
Opinion polls show leftists could garner 40 to 44 percent in the vote, followed by their centre-right rivals National Liberal Party (PNL) with about 18 to 27 percent. The new Save Romania Union (USR) party is expected to get somewhere between 8 and 19 percent.
The European Commission expects Romania's budget deficit to quadruple from 0.8 percent in 2015 to 3.2 percent in 2017 under European accounting terms. It would be the second-largest deficit in the EU after Spain.
In contrast with most of the European Union, anger over austerity - which in Romania followed a 2008 real estate crash - has had little impact on public support for EU membership.
In neighbouring Bulgaria, which joined alongside Romania in 2007, anger over failed reforms and concerns over the EU's internal problems such as Britain's decision to leave, helped a pro-Russian candidate win the presidency last month.
A eurosceptic government was elected just over a year ago in Poland, in part on a promise to bring decision-making back home.
Forming a government could be complicated after the election if the PSD fails to win an outright majority, as expected, and if centrist and centre-right groupings can build a competing coalition, observers say.
Much could depend on the electoral result of the USR, a newcomer to politics benefiting from a lack of image problems and associated by observers with anti-graft and protecting patrimony, although the party lacks a unifying ideology.
Voting starts at 07:00 a.m. local time (0500 GMT) and polling stations close at 09:00 p.m., with 18.9 million Romanians eligible to cast ballots.
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