Europe

Romanians began voting in parliamentary election

In this Dec. 8, 2016 picture a man uses a gas burner to clean the skin of a freshly slaughtered pig of hair in Dambu, Romania.

In this Dec. 8, 2016 picture a man uses a gas burner to clean the skin of a freshly slaughtered pig of hair in Dambu, Romania.  (AP)

Romanians began voting Sunday in a parliamentary election a year after a massive anti-corruption drive forced the last Socialist prime minister from power.

The country of about 19 million is one of the poorest in the European Union and perceived as one of the most corrupt.

Romania's biggest party, the Social Democratic Party, is expected to come first and will likely try to form a majority with smaller parties. In all, 504 seats are up for re-election in Romania's bicameral Parliament.

President Klaus Iohannis, who by law is not allowed to belong to any party, urged Romanians to vote.

"I voted for a prosperous and strong Romania," Iohannis said after casting his ballot in the Romanian capital of Bucharest.

Former Prime Minister Victor Ponta resigned after mass protests following a nightclub fire in October 2015 that killed 64 people. The country is currently run by a government of technocrats headed by Premier Dacian Ciolos, a former EU agriculture commissioner.

In recent days, Iohannis has reiterated his commitment to the anti-corruption fight.

"Corruption is stagnation, contempt for citizens and the law. As I've said before, corruption kills," he said Friday.

Polls close at 9 p.m.