Romania’s pro-European liberal Prime Minister Ludovic Orban has claimed victory in the country’s national elections.
An exit poll conducted by INSOMAR gave Orban's National Liberal Party (PNL) a narrow lead of 32 percent in the Sunday parliamentary elections. It gave the main opposition Social Democratic Party (PSD) 28 percent.
However, another exit poll by Curs-Avantgarde put the PSD at 30.5 percent, and the PNL only 29.0 percent.
Both polls showed the Save Romania Union (USR)-Plus had gained approximately 16 percent of the vote.
Even if the final results show that Orban is slightly behind his rivals, he is still expected to get the nomination to form a coalition government.
Most likely the centrist USR-Plus grouping, from President Klaus Iohannis, will form the coalition with PNL.
“The PNL thinks it is the winner of this election,” Orban told supporters in an early reaction.
Orban, whose reforms bids had been chiefly constrained by the PSD-controlled parliament, will now get a chance to pursue his plans.
He has pledged to overturn years of efforts by a succession of leftist governments.
PSD’s last government collapsed in late 2019, following the imprisonment of former leader Liviu Dragnea on corruption charges.
Turnout was the lowest since Romania shed communism in a bloody revolt in 1989, with decades of voter apathy over failed reforms compounded by coronavirus fears this year.
There were few new rules introduced for election day, but Romania has had one of the highest death rates in the EU. Schools and restaurants remain closed and an evening curfew was imposed in November.