Romanian left seeks election comeback


Romanians vote Sunday in parliamentary elections that are forecast to see the corruption-tainted left stage a remarkable comeback, a year after a deadly nightclub fire forced them from office.
Polls put the Social Democrats (PSD) in first place with around 40 percent. The centre-right National Liberal Party (PNL) and the Save Romania Union (USR) are seen garnering a combined 35-40 percent.
After the disco blaze on October 30, 2015, which claimed 64 lives, tens of thousands took to the streets, forcing premier Victor Ponta and his PSD-led government to resign.
A caretaker government was then installed under technocrat Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos, 47, a former European commissioner. The PNL and the USR have said they would support Ciolos staying on. He is happy to do so but wants to remain an independent, vowing continued budgetary discipline.
But the PSD, expected to form a coalition with the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE), wants Ciolos gone and instead to install party head Liviu Dragnea, 54, as premier.
However, Dragnea is serving a suspended sentence for electoral fraud, though, and a 2001 law prevents anyone convicted of a crime becoming a minister.
Moreover President Klaus Iohannis, 57, has refused to appoint anyone with legal problems as prime minister.—AFP

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