Romanians sick of politicians ahead of local elections

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The Independent Online

Financial unrest and disappointment with politicians could discourage many Romanians from showing up at the polls to pick new municipal leaders.

Financial unrest and disappointment with politicians could discourage many Romanians from showing up at the polls to pick new municipal leaders.

Widespread poverty and corruption were likely to cost the five ruling-coalition parties votes in the election, which was considered a dress rehearsal for parliamentary and presidential elections in the fall.

Some 17 million Romanians are eligible to vote Sunday for new leaders in 3,000 towns and villages.

But with many voters saying they don't believe politicians are willing to help improve dire living conditions, turnout could be low. The average monthly salary is dlrs 90, and inflation is expected to be 27 percent this year.

Worried about voter apathy, newspapers and TV stations urged people Saturday to cast ballots. But economic woes triggered by the recent collapse of the country's biggest investment fund could keep people from voting.

Thousands of investors have taken to the streets, some vowing not to vote to express dissatisfaction with authorities they say have not protected them from shaky investment funds.

Investors in the National Fund for Investment protesteoperating last week for lack of funds.

"I am not voting tomorrow," said Adriana Petrescu, 46, a general manager at a private pesticide company. "Nothing here changes. There is just corruption and self-interest."

Alexandru Mihai, a 52-year-old legal adviser, seemed just as jaded: "I don't trust anyone anymore. (Politicians) are all out for themselves, and they don't care about people's problems."

The government has accused the party of former President Ion Iliescu of orchestrating the financial chaos this week to increase its share of votes.

Iliescu's Party of Social Democracy - which was leading opinion polls ahead of Sunday's race - denied the government's accusations.

Some 7,000 foreign and local observers were to monitor the vote. Run-off elections will be held in two weeks to fill posts in which no candidate receives a 50 percent majority Sunday.

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