More than 18 million Romanians are registered to vote for a new national parliament but turnout is expected to be low due to voters’ fears about becoming infected with coronavirus.
According to most pre-election polls, the center-right National Liberal Party, known by its Romanian acronym PNL, is expected to become the largest party in the 465-seat bicameral parliament with over 30% support. Still, that would fall short of a governing majority. Analysts predict the party will seek to create a governing coalition with the progressive USR-Plus alliance, which is forecast to capture around 20% of the vote.
The PNL has controlled Romania’s minority government since last October when its main rival, the left-leaning, populist Social Democrat Party, lost a confidence vote in the parliament amid massive protests over widespread corruption and heavy criticism from Brussels over the Social Democrats' attacks on the judiciary.
Still, the Social Democrats remained the strongest party in the parliament and have spent the past year obstructing the minority cabinet’s efforts to contain the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. The Social Democrats are popular among Romania’s rural voters and are expected to win over 20% of the vote.
To date, Romania has confirmed over half a million virus cases, with more than 12,000 deaths — and the country's outbreak is growing. Almost two-thirds of the confirmed cases and nearly a half of all virus-related deaths have been in the past two months.
No special virus precautions have been put in place for the election beyond general requirements to wear masks, sanitize hands and maintain social distancing.
Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak