Tags: EU | Romania | Elections

Romanians Vote for Mayors in Ballot Overshadowed by Graft

Romanians Vote for Mayors in Ballot Overshadowed by Graft

Sunday, 05 June 2016 03:40 PM

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romanians voted Sunday for local officials in administrations that are plagued with corruption.

In Bucharest, the former city mayor and five out of six district mayors elected in 2012 have been convicted or are being investigated on graft charges. Two are running to win their districts again this year.

Three exit polls showed that Gabriela Firea, a former TV journalist and member of the center-left Social Democratic Party easily won the post of Bucharest mayor, scoring about 41 percent of the vote.

Party chairman Liviu Dragnea, who was handed a two-year suspended sentence in April for attempting to rig a 2012 referendum on the impeachment of Romania's former president, handed her three red roses after the polls were published. Firea said she would have "zero tolerance" for corruption and wanted to attract more investment for Bucharest.

The same polls said the runner-up was Nicusor Dan, a mathematician, who ran on an anti-corruption ticket, who scored about 29 percent. Preliminary results are expected later and final results are expected Monday.

Bucharest, a city of more than 2 million, had the largest local budget this year of 4.1 billion Romanian lei ($1.01 billion).

Polls closed at 9 p.m. (1800 GMT). At 8 p.m. (1700 GMT), some 46.2 percent of the electorate of 18.3 million had voted, election authorities said.

Romania has launched a major drive against corruption in the last few years and its anti-corruption agency successfully prosecuted 1,250 cases, including a former prime minister and five former ministers, its best performance ever.

However, people who have been indicted of corruption but haven't been convicted aren't excluded from running for office.

Fifty-one of 109 mayors of Romania's major cities have been convicted or investigated for corruption or have been declared unfit for office, according to the penali.ro anti-corruption site.

According to Romania's anti-corruption prosecutors' office, more than 100 mayors, deputy mayors, county council presidents and vice presidents were indicted for corruption in 2015.

Ion Gavrila, a security officer guarding an ornate white office building in downtown Bucharest, said he was disillusioned with the candidates running for office.

"There are five out of six who are suspected of corruption in Bucharest. Who should I vote for? The problem is that once people get into office, they steal," he said.

The current mayor of the city of Brasov, George Scripcaru, is running for a fourth term. He was arrested in 2015 for abuse of office, on suspicion of taking kickbacks from energy contracts and accepting bribes. He denies wrongdoing.

A deputy chairman of Romania's main Social Democracy party, Lia Olguta Vasilescu, is running for a second term as mayor of Craiova, Romania's sixth-largest city. She has been indicted on suspicion of bribery, using her authority or influence to obtain money or other goods and for money laundering. She denies wrongdoing.

It is the first ballot after the Colectiv nightclub fire in Bucharest where 64 people died in October 2015. The fire was blamed on safety officials who ignored violations of fire regulations. Former Premier Victor Ponta resigned following protests after the fire.

This story corrects the surname of the Bucharest mayoral runner-up to Dan, not Stan. A previous version of this story has been corrected to say five out of six district mayors elected in 2012, not six out of seven, have been convicted or are being investigated on graft charges.

© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

   
1Like our page
2Share
Europe
Romanians voted Sunday for local officials in administrations that are plagued with corruption.In Bucharest, the former city mayor and five out of six district mayors elected in 2012 have been convicted or are being investigated on graft charges. Two are running to win...
EU,Romania,Elections
560
2016-40-05
Sunday, 05 June 2016 03:40 PM
Newsmax Media, Inc.
 
 

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

NEWSMAX.COM
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved