Romania’s Social Democrats were hoping to win Bucharest, but the incumbent mayor Gabriela Firea lost to mathematician Nicusor Dan, supported by a center-right alliance.
A victory in the Romanian capital would have meant an important symbolic win and control of the capital with a yearly budget of 2 billion euros.
It would have also marked a comeback after a poor showing in the past two elections.
That would have given Romania’s biggest party a boost ahead of Dec. 6 general elections and encouragement it needs at a time when one commentator said that under the current leadership it is heading „nowhere.”
While the party did comfortably well in some parts in the south and east, their traditional heartlands, the map of Romania shows the red footprint is shrinking according to near-final results.
„They are going nowhere under the current leadership,” journalist Cristian Tudor Popescu said. „They didn’t manage to get new voters; they didn’t manage to convince anyone they are a European party, that they are open, and they no longer want to attack the justice system.”
But party chairman Marcel Ciolacu on Monday insisted the party was headed in the right direction.”We need a strong left-leaning party, that is modern, and with vision and adapted to the new realities.”
The Social Democrats won 14 county seats, while the Liberals won 15 and the Save Romanian Union-Plus party which joined forces in many places with the Liberals won four.
The ethnic Hungarian party, the UDMR, won three county seats, and the Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania won the seat of Sibiu as expected,
The Ecologists won a seat and independents took the remaining three seats.
It was a poor showing for the Social Democrats who lost areas they should have expected to hand on to.
They lost the Black Sea city of Constanta, which they have held for the last 20 years. The incumbent mayor, Dumitru Fagadau, came third.
They lost the eastern city of Bacau, a seat they should have kept.
In Bucharest, they lost all but one of the six districts, although the first district is currently disputed.
They incredibly lost Giurgiu in the south and Targu Jiu, where the Liberals won a surprise victory ousting the Social Democrats after 17 years.
They narrowly lost Slobozia, and came third in Iasi, formerly a Social Democrat stronghold.
The former transport minister Razvan Cuc lost the city of Piatra Neamt which was won by the Liberals.
However, they scored highly in Teleorman winning most seats and in the neighboring county of Olt. Overall, they won many smaller places.
The jewel in their crown is the southern city of Craiova where former Labor Minister Lia Olguta Vasilescu was elected.
The party also held on to the eastern city of Buzau, with Constantin Toma elected for another four-year term.
But they lost the northwest Maramures region, where the Liberals managed to secure the head of the County Council.