Romanians vote for mayors in ballot overshadowed by corruption
Published 05/06/2016 | 12:11
Romanians have begun voting for local officials in administrations that are plagued with corruption.
In Bucharest, the former city mayor and five out of six district mayors elected in 2012 have been convicted or are being investigated on political corruption charges. Two are running to win their districts again this year.
Bucharest, a city of more than two million, had the largest local budget this year of 4.1 billion Romanian lei (£695m).
Romania has launched a major drive against corruption in the last few years and its anti-corruption agency successfully prosecuted 1,250 cases, including a former prime minister and five former ministers, its best performance ever.
However, people who have been indicted of corruption but haven't been convicted are not excluded from running for office.
Some 51 of 109 mayors of Romania's major cities have been convicted or investigated for corruption or have been declared unfit for office, according to the penali.ro anti-corruption site.
According to Romania's anti-corruption prosecutors' office, more than 100 mayors, deputy mayors, county council presidents and vice presidents were indicted for corruption in 2015.
The current mayor of the city of Brasov, George Scripcaru, is running for a fourth term. He was arrested in 2015 for abuse of office, on suspicion of taking kickbacks from energy contracts and accepting bribes. He denies wrongdoing.
A deputy chairman of Romania's main Social Democracy party, Lia Olguta Vasilescu, is running for a second term as mayor of Craiova, Romania's sixth largest city. She has been indicted on suspicion of bribery, using her authority or influence to obtain money or other goods and for money laundering. She denies wrongdoing.