Opposition Social Democrats celebrate May Day with a major march and a street party in Bucharest on Tuesday. The party gathered thousands of new members from across the country for a march that blocked traffic on a key city road. The event is used to gain madia coverage for the PSD position in a referendum later this month that calls for the dismissal of President Traian Basescu.

May Day is by tradition a day of very few events as many people are spending the several-day holiday away from home. The PSD march and street party is thus expected to attract substantial media interest.

The PSD is pushing for a vote against Basescu in the May 19 referendum where Romanians will be asked whether they want the head of state out of office. Basescu is one of Romania’s most popular politicians, but a report by EvZ today suggests he is losing ground against the opposition on key TV news channels as the referendum campaign comes in full swing.

Some 1,600 young members of the party gathered at the PSD headquarters on Kisseleff Street in north Bucharest before noon today. They started a 6 km-long march to the Izvor Square downtown, expecting to be joined by 4,000 along the way. Some 10,000 people are expected to attend the PSD street party due to take place at Izvor Square in the afternoon.

The so-called “meat-rolls and beer” parties have been used intensively by the PSD in key electoral campaigns over the years, luring many of Bucharest’s poor and uneducated. But such events became less and less efficient prior to the 2004 general elections, when the PSD failed to regain the government.