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No Romanian party will secure outright majority in next election: adviser

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romania’s former ruling leftist coalition stands a good chance of pooling forces for an election in December but it is unlikely to win enough support to form a government, an adviser to the Romanian president said on Wednesday.

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis walks during a ceremony in Jerusalem March 8, 2016. REUTERS/ Ammar Awad

President Klaus Iohannis last November named Dacian Ciolos, a former European Commissioner, to form a technocrat government with a one-year mandate, to replace that of leftist Victor Ponta who quit over a deadly nightclub fire.

Its term expires after elections at the end of the year to find another government to take up the challenge of building up the European Union member’s economy and attracting investors who have been deterred by high levels of corruption.

Romania’s two big parties - the leftist Social Democrats and their political rivals, the centrist Liberals - should perform strongly, Laurentiu Stefan, Iohannis’s political adviser, said at the Reuters Eastern Europe Investment Summit.

Each should get about 32-35 percent, less than the 50 percent majority support required to be able to put forward a prime minister, he said.

Stefan said any electoral alliance between social democrats and two allied junior parties would equally fail to meet the 50 percent threshold.

Stefan, who served for a decade at the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest until 2015, said no Romanian political party, even with the backing of junior pre-election allies, would be able to garner outright majority of seats in parliament.

The present technocrat Ciolos cabinet comprising mostly European Commission staff, diplomats and civil society leaders, is a first in Romania’s 26 post-communist years.

“The two large groupings still need allies to reach those numbers enabling them to form a majority so this is an open-ended game,” Stefan said.

Stefan, who expects a low turnout in the election, said Iohannis would press for a government that would keep Romania a “credible actor in the European Union,” and aid predictable and friendly business environment.

Prosecutors in Romania - one of Europe’s most corrupt states - have been cracking down on high-level graft including ministers, lawmakers and mayors, gaining praise from Brussels.

Stefan said he could not rule out another technocrat prime minister being nominated.

“Evidently, the President will be searching for a prime minister. We’ll see if this is a political prime minister or one having a shorter political career not to mention even a technocrat ... there are still many question marks.”

Asked whether Ciolos might retain his post, Stefan said: “He’s an asset for Romanian politics. Very abstractly speaking I do believe that Romania and Romanian parties could have a valuable source if he decided to join the arena (after the elections).”

Whichever party gets into power would need to rein in spending. The European Commission has forecast that Romania’s budget deficit will overshoot the mandatory 3 percent of GDP ceiling next year as a result of already enforced public sector wage hikes and planned further tax cuts.

Editing by Richard Balmforth