Romanian Prime Minister Ludovic Orban’s ruling Liberals and the leftist Social Democrats (PSD) were neck-and-neck in a general election on Sunday, exit polls suggested, a vote seen as pivotal for the country’s future in the European mainstream.
A reform-minded fiscal conservative, Orban is expected to get the nomination to form the government, most likely with the small centrist USR-Plus grouping, from President Klaus Iohannis, even if final results show him losing by a narrow margin.
He quickly claimed victory, even though exit polls showed a mixed picture, with one conducted by INSOMAR giving him a narrow lead with a showing of 32% and the PSD at 28%. Another exit poll by Curs-Avantgarde put the PSD at 30.5% and the PNL at 29.0%.
Both polls showed centrist alliance USR-Plus a likely Orban coalition partner at roughly 16%.
The exit polls showed votes cast until 1700 GMT, two hours before polls closed, and they do not include the diaspora which generally leans towards centrists.
“The PNL thinks it is the winner of this election,” Orban told supporters.
He has pledged to overturn years of efforts by a succession of leftist governments to suppress the independence of courts – a charge they had denied – which had been compared by critics to judiciary reforms in Poland and Hungary contested by the EU.
In power for a year until now, Orban had been constrained in any reform efforts by a parliament controlled by the PSD grouping, which has seen three prime ministers toppled since the last legislative election in 2016.
Campaigning on a promise to bring Romania closer to the European mainstream, Orban has pledged to restore investor sentiment badly shaken by the PSD’s fiscal populism and revive efforts to repair neglected infrastructure and public services.
Taken from Reuters.com