BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Romania’s ruling coalition of leftist Social Democrats and centre-right Liberals has agreed to hold a presidential election on Nov. 24 and Dec. 8, with parliamentary polls in between, they said on Thursday.

The two parties, which are widely expected to continue in a coalition after the Dec. 1 parliamentary election, will likely field separate candidates to succeed outgoing president Klaus Iohannis, complicating negotiations between the two.

Iohannis, who used to head the Liberal Party, will complete his second and final term in December.

The two parties, which formed a grand coalition government in late 2021, ran on joint lists in the June election for European Parliament, securing 48.6% of votes.

They had separate candidates in local polls held on the same day, where the Social Democrats won 37.6% of votes and the Liberals 32.3%. Opposition far-right grouping AUR emerged as the third most popular party, but with support far behind that of the coalition.

The incoming government will need to redouble efforts to lower the European Union member’s gaping budget deficit and enforce reforms needed to keep billions of euros of EU recovery funds coming.

As the presidential powers include oversight of foreign policy, the new president will play a critical role given Romania’s commitment to continued support for neighbouring Ukraine. Without a full list of confirmed candidates, opinion surveys have yet to indicate a clear favourite.

(Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Thomas Janowski)

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