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Romania votes in local elections as prelude to General Election

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Romania votes in local elections as prelude to General Election
Copyright  Andreea Alexandru/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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Polls opened on Sunday in Romania's local elections, which are being viewed as an indicator of how an upcoming General Election in December might unfold for the country's minority government, currently led by the National Liberal Party.

Some 19 million registered voters across Romania are choosing local officials, council presidents and mayors to fill more than 43,000 positions across the EU member state.

The most closely-watched race will be for the next mayor of the capital, Bucharest, a race between the National Liberal Party challenger Nicusor Dan and Social Democrats' incumbent Gabriela Firea.

Other candidates include former Romanian president Traian Băsescu and former Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu, now leader of the Alliance of Democrats and Liberals (ALDE).

The election is expected to reveal the strength of the NLP which has led the government since the Social Democratic Party (PSD) fell from power late last year.

This followed allegations of extensive corruption highlighted by two years of anti-corruption protests, though the PSD remain the biggest parliamentary party.

Romania has seen COVID-19 infection rates rise rapidly since lifting a strict lockdown earlier this year. The PSD have blamed the NLP minority government, claiming they have mismanaged the crisis.