Romanian mayor wins election two weeks after Covid-related death

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Image source, Reuters
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A photo and obituary for Ion Aliman in Deveselu

A Romanian mayor who died from coronavirus complications has secured a landslide victory in local elections.

Ion Aliman won a third term as mayor of Deveselu, a village in southern Romania, securing 64% of the vote.

Officials said his name was already printed on ballots and could not be removed after he died in the capital, Bucharest, on 15 September.

Another election will be held, officials told Reuters, but locals have visited his grave to pay respects.

A video on social media shows a large group of villagers gathering around Mr Aliman's tombstone.

"It is your victory," one man can be heard saying in the video.

"He was a real mayor to us," another woman told local outlet ProTV, Reuters reported. "He took the side of the village, respected all the laws. I don't think we will see a mayor like him again."

Mr Aliman, a former naval officer, was a member of the left-leaning Social Democrat Party (PSD) and would have turned 57 on Monday.

His success has been a ray of good news for the PSD. The party lost several city and council seats across Romania to the centre-right USR-PLUS alliance, and to the centrist Liberal government (PNL), which controls the country's minority government.

The PSD was swept from power last year after the government lost a no-confidence vote in parliament, amid mass protests and clashes with the European Union over judicial reform and corruption.

Mr Aliman's victory is not the first for a deceased Romanian candidate.

In 2008, Neculai Ivascu was re-elected mayor of Voinesti, in the country's north-east, after dying from liver disease. Election officials later declared that his Liberal rival, runner-up Gheorghe Dobrescu, was the winner - prompting criticism from Ivascu's PSD.