Romania’s president says local elections should go ahead despite Covid-19 spike

Foto: INQUAM/Octav Ganea

President Klaus Iohannis said there was no justification for postponing local elections this month even as Romania reported a record spike in coronavirus cases on Wednesday.

Mr. Iohannis urged Romanians to vote in the Sept. 27 elections saying “Your vote can decide how we change the communities in which we live.”

Elections were initially scheduled for June, but authorities postponed them due to the pandemic. Romania imposed a strict lockdown from March to mid-May and then began to ease restrictions.

The government decided to hold elections in September followed by parliamentary elections later this year.

Some opposition politicians have pushed for elections to be postponed by a year.

But Mr. Iohannis said: “Go and vote and put a stamp on the candidates which will change things for the better. Don’t let others decide in your place,” at a press conference on Wednesday evening.

He said Romanians were interested in „traffic, schools and hospitals” and not „sterile attacks.”

He called on candidates running for mayor and for local councils to use “all means of communication to present your projects. “Toxic practices with underhand themes belong to the past,”he said. “The political fight is above all a fight for projects for the community.”

„People are waiting for solutions and concrete proposals, not sterile attacks.”

Mr. Iohannis didn’t refer to any politicians or incidents. However, in the past week, Nicusor Dan, wh is running for mayor of Bucharest on an anti-corruption ticket, has been accused by the incumbent, Gabriela Firea, of influence peddling.

A telephone conversation was leaked where Dan, who is supported by the governing Liberals, appeared to offer support to a businessman. He has denied wrongdoing, but members of Firea’s Social Democratic Party have filed complaints to the anti-corruption prosecutors’ unit.

Mr Iohannis, who was former chairman of the Liberal Party, was a local politician and served as mayor of the central city of Sibiu from 2000 until he was elected president in 2014.

In 2007, when Romania joined the European Union, Sibiu was named Europe’s cultural capital for a year.

Regarding voting procedures during the pandemic, Mr. Iohannis said people should wear masks, disinfect their hands and keep a safe distance from other people. “They remain the only barriers between us and the virus.”

Polling stations will have masks on hand and separate entrances and exits for voters.

Romania said the number of new coronavirus infections rose by 1,713 in the past day, a record high, taking the cumulative total to 107,011 cases. Since the outbreak began in February, 4,285 people have died.

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