Romania Sets Election Dates in Test to Ruling Parties’ Unity

(Bloomberg) -- Romania scheduled key elections for later this year after weeks of bickering between the nation’s ruling parties over the timeline laid bare cracks in the two-year long power-sharing government.

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The contest to succeed President Klaus Iohannis will take place on Nov. 24 with a potential second round on Dec. 8, while parliamentary elections to determine the next government will be held on Dec. 1, Romania’s national day.

The cabinet of Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu will approve the election decree on Thursday, “to finally put this matter to rest,” he said.

Ciolacu’s Social Democrats have ruled in a coalition with their main rivals, the National Liberal Party, since late 2021 as part of a fragile agreement to put aside differences and govern the Black Sea nation together. The Liberals had pushed back on an initial plan to hold a vote in September, arguing there was too little time for thorough debate.

The parties have yet to announce their main candidates. The Social Democrats may hold a congress in the coming days to decide on their nomination, according to the Digi24 TV station.

A potential top contender for the presidency would be NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana, a former Social Democratic leader who would run as an independent. A poll released on Thursday by Inscop polling company showed Geoana could win the race, regardless of the challenger in the second round.

(Updates with comments from Premier Ciolacu in third paragraph, details on Social Democratic congress in fifth graph, opinion poll in last.)

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