Romanian Leader Urged to Quit Over Party's Slide in EU Vote

Andra Timu and Irina Vilcu
Romanian Leader Urged to Quit Over Party's Slide in EU Vote

(Bloomberg) -- A worse-than-expected result for Romania’s ruling party in the European Parliament elections put its chairman, the country’s de-facto leader, under pressure to resign, including from some members of his own party.

Social Democratic Party boss Liviu Dragnea vowed to take responsibility for the poor result, but said any decision he takes will have to be debated with party members in the coming days after official results are out. He brushed off calls from his rivals, including President Klaus Iohannis and opposition parties, for the government to resign.

Dragnea’s party got about 25% in the vote, trailing the opposition Liberal Party who scored a victory with 28%. The opposition Save Romania Union mustered a surprising 21%.

“I’ve always taken responsibility for what I’ve done,” Dragnea told reporters in Bucharest. “Under no circumstances should we give up governing.”

Romanians turned out in droves to vote for the European Union’s assembly and for a referendum that could put the brakes on a controversial overhaul of the judiciary, which is torpedoing relations with the bloc. Turnout was 49%, the highest in Romania’s four European parliament elections, compared with 32% in 2014.

Officials from Brussels say the judiciary reforms curb courts’ independence -- mirroring similar charges aimed at Hungary and Poland -- an allegation the government in Bucharest denies. The EU this month warned Romania, which currently holds the bloc’s rotating presidency, over the possibility of sanctions if it doesn’t reverse course.

Dragnea, who may have to serve prison time as early as this week for a corruption conviction he’s fighting, was prevented from becoming prime minister because of an earlier criminal case for trying to fix a referendum.

(Updates with results in third paragraph.)

To contact the reporters on this story: Andra Timu in Bucharest at atimu@bloomberg.net;Irina Vilcu in Bucharest at isavu@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrea Dudik at adudik@bloomberg.net, Michael Winfrey

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