Social Democrats 'take huge lead in Romania elections'

Social Democrats 'take huge lead in Romania elections'

Two exit polls are giving Romania's left-leaning Social Democrats a huge lead in a parliamentary election, a year after a major anti-corruption drive forced the last Socialist prime minister from power.

The Social Democratic Party scored about 45% while the centre-right Liberals came second with about 21% of the vote, according to polling institute CURS-AVANGARDE and the Romanian Institute for Evaluation and Strategy.

The chairman of the Social Democrats, Liviu Dragnea, greeted it cautiously, saying he was "quite satisfied" and "overwhelmed" by what the exit polls predicted, adding "I hope we won't have conflicts in the future."

The Save Romania Union, a new party, which ran on an anti-corruption ticket, came third, allowing it to enter Parliament, according to the polls.

"There should be no doubt who won the elections," Mr Dragnea said. "Romanians want to feel at home in their own country and I want Romania to be a good home for all Romanians."

Mr Dragnea got a two-year suspended prison sentence for voter fraud in April for inflating voter numbers at a July 2012 referendum to impeach former President Traian Basescu. His party was pushing a populist line.

He said Romania would respect its international strategic and economic commitments.

"Romania is an island of stability in the region," he said.

Save Romania Union leader Nicusor Dan called the exit poll predictions "a victory for Romanian democracy," noting people had left their jobs to volunteer to set up the party, which was created in February.

Early results are expected early Monday. The country of about 19 million people is one of the poorest in the European Union and perceived as one of the most corrupt.

AP

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