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The center-left ruling coalition has announced its candidates for the upcoming parliamentary elections in December, a popular test that it is expected to win.
Over 50,000 people attended the launch on Wednesday in the National Arena stadium in Bucharest of the candidates of the ruling Social Liberal Union coalition, USL.
Some 450 USL candidates, with businessmen, journalists and artists among them, will run for seats in the parliament in the general election on December 9.
“This is the biggest such event organized in Romania. It shows the strength of the Social Liberal Union and the fact that so many Romanians support us,” Relu Fenechiu, a leader of National Liberal Party, PNL, a member of the USL, said.
Recent polls suggest that the coalition of Prime Minister Victor Ponta remains on course to win the election, even if its ratings have slipped a little as a result of the undignified recent power struggle between him and President Traian Basescu.
Ponta's Social Liberal Union is tipped to win around 54 per cent of the vote, while the opposition Democrat Liberals are tipped to win around 23 per cent.
But some USL candidates are being criticised by civic activists as inappropriate figures for national politics.
One rights group has already urged the USL to stop Gigi Becali, a wealthy businessman and owner of Romania’s biggest football club, Steaua, from running in the polls.
“The candidacy of Becali is shocking and intolerable. We hope you will not help a misogynist, homophobic and racist politician become Bucharest's representative in parliament,” the group said in a public letter.
Becali is a far right-politician and is already a member of the European Parliament. He has been repeatedly fined for making racist and sexist remarks. He is also facing trial over charges of graft and unlawful confinement.
But USL leaders are defending their choice. "Our coalition welcomes anyone who wants to support us in getting rid of Traian Basescu. Our strategy is not to start asking people who are with us in this fight, 'Why don't you first go to school, why don't you wash your hands,?'" Ponta said recently.
A long dispute between Ponta and Basescu resulted in a referendum on the impeachment of the President on July 29. Most Romanians voted in favour of his impeachment but Basescu remained in his post because the turnout was only 46 per cent.
In order for an impeachment to be validated by the Constitutional Court, a turnout of 50 per cent of voters was required.
Ponta’s battles with the President have caused concern in Brussels about Romania’s continued commitment to the rule of law. Ponta has promised to address those concerns.
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