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With many Romanians feeling disappointed with politics and hard hit by the economic crisis, Sunday’s local election will most likely reveal a turn to the left as well as being by high levels of abstention.
Some 15.6 million Romanians are eligible to go to the polls on June 10 to elect their new local representatives – mayors, local or county councillors and heads of county councils - amid rising fears about the impact of the economic recession.
In total, around 44,000 people will be installed in public office after the Sunday local elections. This will also be the first time that mayors are elected with only a one-round system.
Public disillusion with the work of parliament and with all political parties is likely to be reflected in indifference and high levels of abstention.
The elections are taking place in a climate of insecurity and frustration, with many people affected by recent years of austerity.
The electoral campaign has been calm with almost no violent incidents but also with no serious debates over issues such as administrative reforms and corruption – the same issues that galvanised voters in previous elections.
The vote will probably just confirm the position of most of the politicians already in power, analysts say.
According to the polls, the favourites in the elections are representatives of the country’s ruling coalition, the Social Liberal Union, USL, which comprises leftist Social Democrats and centre-right Liberals and Conservatives.
This replaced the former coalition led by the Democratic Liberal Party, PDL, in late April.
In Bucharest, the USL candidate, former surgeon Sorin Oprescu, is expected to win by a landslide, with around 65 per cent of the votes.
For analysts the main question is whether the USL will win more than 50 per cent of the votes in the local elections nationwide.
If they do, this would send a strong signal that the Social Liberal Union will also win a majority in the November parliamentary elections, allowing them to go further with their plans to ease austerity within the framework of Romania's IMF deal.
Romania depends on a 20-billion-euro rescue package from the IMF, the European Union and the World Bank.
It obtained the loan in May 2009 in exchange for agreeing to push through austerity measures aimed at taming the country’s yawning deficit. In July 2010 the government cut civil servants' wages by 25 per cent, while thousands of state jobs were axed and VAT was increased by 5 per cent to 24 per cent.
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