Romanians voted strongly in favor of the new governing coalition of Social Democrats and Liberals (USL) in local elections on Sunday, after years of Democratic Liberal (PDL) government which applied a long series of austerity measures but which, according to rivals, had lost its legitimacy. USL claimed a strong lead across the country with major wins in Bucharest and other cities, while here and there a close vote remains to be settled.
USL leader Victor Ponta pointed out on Monday morning that these were the best results the Social Democrats and the Liberals ever received in local elections.
In Bucharest, the Democratic Liberals lost two districts - 3 and 6 - which had traditionally voted in favor of its candidates. They were claimed by candidates representing the USL parties, who also strengthened their lead in other sectors and in the race for the City Hall, where incumbent Sorin Oprescu retains his seat as Bucharest Mayor. The only non-USL mayor in Bucharest is District 2's Neculai Ontanu.
One of the closest battles is fought in the city of Cluj, where former Democratic Liberal prime minister Emil Boc - who had served as Cluj mayor twice before - ran for a new term as mayor against USL candidate Marius Nicoara. While on Sunday evening most exit polls claimed Nicoara was the winner, on Sunday morning PDL claimed Boc was in fact the winner with several hundred votes more than his rival.
USL managed several unexpected wins such as that of Social Democratic candidate Lia Olguta Vasilescu's against Antonie Solomon in the southern Romanian city of Craiova.
Some expected results were the wins of Nicolae Robu (USL) in Timisoara, Dorin Florea (PDL) in Targu Mures, Gheorghe Nichita (PSD) in Iasi, Ilie Bolojan (PNL) in Oradea.