Even after he died from Covid-19 complications two weeks ago, Romanian villagers re-elected their mayor by a landslide, claiming he had done a decent job and deserved his posthumous victory.
A video posted on social media shows hundreds of villagers visiting the grave of Social Democrat Ion Aliman to light candles after voting ended in local elections on Sunday.
"It's a win for you," one guy can be heard saying. "Remember you're going to be proud of us. Rest in peace."
As mayor of Deveselu, a village of around 3,000 residents in southern Romania, Aliman secured his third term with 64 percent of the vote, electoral bureau data showed on Monday.
"He was our true mayor," one unidentified woman wearing a surgical mask told the Deveselu private television channel, ProTV. "He took the side of the village, respected all the laws. I don't think we will see a mayor like him again."
Aliman, a former navy officer who would have turned 57 on Monday, died on September 17 in a hospital in Bucharest. His name was already on the printed voting ballots and could not be removed, officials said. A new election will be held.
In 2008, a village in eastern Romania also knowingly re-elected their mayor who had died just after voting began.
Despite Aliman's victory, his Social Democrat Party lost key cities and county councils across Romania on Sunday to the centrist minority Liberal government and USR-Plus, an alliance of two center-right groupings.
Romania has reported 123,944 Covid-19 infections since late February, with 4,748 deaths, the highest fatality rate in the European Union's eastern wing.