Romania’s first election to the European parliament is expected to deal a blow to the government ahead of next year’s national parliamentary poll. Romanians are choosing 35 MEP’s to represent them in Brussels and Strasbourg. The vote is widely seen as a key test of the popularity of the main parties. Polls suggest the centrist Democrats will get around 40 percent and the governing Liberal party only about 13 percent.
Romania joined the EU last January amid promises to continue efforts to eliminate high level corruption. It remains a major concern for Europe and ordinary Romanians. Transparency International, an organisation that monitors corruption, ranks Romania as the EU member most severely affected by the problem.
The vote is taking place alongside a referendum on a planned overhaul of Romania’s electoral system intended to make politicians more accountable to voters and to curb top-level fraud. Turnout may be below the 50 percent of voters required for the referendum to pass.