The polls have opened in Romania in the country’s first presidential election since joining the European Union.
Eighteen million people are eligible to vote in what has been a closely-fought campaign. The outcome is seen as vital to ensuring a swift recovery from recession and a resolution to a recent government crisis which has delayed aid from the International Monetary Fund. Opinion polls have the centrist incumbent, Traian Basescu with 35 percent support. He is backed by the Democratic Liberal Party and has added a referendum to the ballot calling for a smaller parliament to ease decision making and fight corruption. His main rival on the left wing is Mircea Geoana from the Social Democrat Party. Opinion polls put him with 30 percent. He is pushing for reforms to speed up the much needed IMF loan. Behind them both is the Liberal, Crin Antonescu trailing with 18 percent. He is campaigning on a ticket to freeze utility prices and tax cuts. If no one wins an absolute majority today a second round run-off will follow on December 6 with the two front runners.