By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
BUDAPEST/BUCHAREST (BosNewsLife)– Voters in Romania were electing a new parliament Sunday, November 30, amid concerns the global economic crisis will bring layoffs and painful austerity measures to the former Communist nation. Opinion polls showed that voters were likely to punish Romania’s current pro-Western leaders who have been criticized as out of touch with Romanians.
Polling stations opened early for an election that was expected to alter Romania’s political landscape. Former Communists, now known as the Romanian Social Democrats, were expected to overtake the ruling center-right National Liberal Party of the pro-Western Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu.
Although Tariceanu led Romania into the European Union, there has been concern over his perceived inability to tackle social tensions in the country, including massive layoffs linked to the global financial crisis.
The country’s main car maker and food and steel factories dismissed some four thousand people last month alone, and many of their suppliers have said they will fire workers as well.
Speaking at an election rally ahead of Sunday’s vote, Social Democrats leader Mircea Geoana said his party would be the best choice to revive years of economic growth and more social benefits. His comments were translated by France 24 Television.
“The approaching crisis calls for a Socialist administration with its stability and professionalism. On the 30th of November we will win our greatest victory,” Geoana said.
However President Traian Basescu, an ally of the opposition Democrat Liberal Party, has the power to name the next prime minister, no matter who wins.
In the sixth election since Communism was ended by a bloody revolt in 1989, Romanians will for the first time choose among individual candidates for senators and deputies, rather than party lists, to fill the 452-member parliament.
As he cast his ballot, President Basescu said he hoped the new voting system would result in a better functioning Parliament for this nation of 22 million people. He said the new parliament should be filled with “those with experience who have already been in power.” He added that he also wants to see a new, young generation participating in politics who represent “courage and cleanness” in politics.
Some smaller parties were likely to play a role in future coalitions, including the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania, which governed with the current prime minister. The party is backed by many voters of the country’s ethnic Hungarian minority of some 1.5 million people. It is expected to receive about five percent of the nationwide ballots cast. (BosNewsLife’s NEWS WATCH is a regular look at key news developments, including former (former) Communist nations, impacting the Church and/or compassionate professionals. Parts of this BosNewsLife News story also airs on its affiliate network Voice of America (VOA))mp3filegeneratevoaromania