They're now in pole position to form a coalition government with a junior ally
Romania's leftist Social Democrats (PSD) won the parliamentary election by a wide margin, according to exit polls.
The party is now in pole position to form a coalition government with a junior ally.
PSD, seeking re-election a year after the coalition it led stepped down amid street protests over public administration and corruption, appears to have won the support of many Romanians with its promises of increased social spending.
Polls conducted by CURS-Avangarde and IRES showed the PSD winning close to 46 percent of the vote, followed by the center-right National Liberal Party (PNL) with about 22 percent. The Save Romania Union party, a newcomer to Romanian politics, was seen winning up to 9.2 percent.
ALDE, a small grouping led by former prime minister Calin Tariceanu, a staunch PSD ally, is expected to take about 6% of the vote.
"I am ... Overwhelmed by the result," leftist leader Liviu Dragnea said after the results were announced.
"Romania is an island of stability in the region. All political factors must understand and respect today's vote."
Dragnea also said his party will start talks to form a parliamentary majority with long-time ally ALDE.
"In the coming days, PSD and ALDE will begin discussions in order to form a new majority in parliament ... Today's vote clearly indicates Romanians' choice for a future government," Dragnea said in a statement.
A technocrat government, led by Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos and limited to a one-year term, took over after the previous coalition's resignation and the PSD has campaigned on a promise to raise public sector wages and to cut taxes.