Romania holds local elections

Local elections originally planned for June will be held across Romania today. The elections will determine nearly 40,000 municipal positions.

Romania Andreea Alexandru AP

Photo: Andreea Alexandru/AP

Local elections originally planned for June will be held across Romania today. The elections will determine nearly 40,000 municipal positions.

The most actively watched race will be the hotly contested mayoral race for the national capital Bucharest between the Social Democratic Party (PSD) incumbent Gabriela Firea and the centre-right National Liberal Party (PNL) candidate Nicușor Dan. The PSD’s fall from power last October and numerous mayoral scandals have given Dan an advantage in the polling, but the surprise entrance of former president and former Bucharest mayor Traian Băsescu into the race in August threatens to split the anti-PSD vote.

While observers are focused on the Bucharest mayoral race, the outcomes of the elections will give the most accurate insight into the future of the country in the lead up to the parliamentary elections set for December 6. While the PNL controls the government, the PSD majority recently passed a vote increasing pensions by 40%, even as the economy is forecast to shrink by 4.7% in 2020, leaving a budget gap of 8.3%.

Expect a close race in Bucharest on Sunday, with most major incumbents outside the capital achieving re-election. The outcome of the mayoral races, the margins of victory and any key upsets across the country will serve as the most accurate bellwether for December. While either party will be hard pressed to deal with the myriad of economic problems Romania is facing, PSD regaining a majority could portend further economic and political unrest.