Voters in Romania have picked a leftist independent mayor to run Bucharest, according to exit polls. Sorin Oprescu, who’s backed by the Social Democrat Party, the PSD, won 54 per cent of the vote. If confirmed, the result will boost the opposition’s bid to regain power nationally in a parliamentary election in the autumn. Mr Oprescu thanked his supporters: “For the first time in recent history the people of Bucharest have handed the city to an independent candidate,” he said.
The Government-backed Democratic Liberal PDL candidate Vasile Blaga conceded defeat graciously: “Today the Bucharest has chosen to hand the city to my opponent,” he said. “When ballot boxes speak then politicians have to shut up.”
President Traian Basescu’s PDL and the Liberals took power in a coalition in 2004. After the coaltion collapsed the Liberals ruled alone. They are said to have trailed on about 20 per cent as voters punished them for internal squabbling and a slowdown in reforms
As recently as two years ago, the PSD’s ratings had slumped to a sixteen year low over a string of corruption scandals threatening the very future of a party that has ruled Romania for all but seven years since the collapse of communism in 1989.