A beloved mayor from Romania, who died from COVID-19, won a landslide victory in his village's local election and won the heart of its villagers, two weeks after he died.
Ion Aliman was reelected as a third-term mayor of Deveselu, a small village in southern Romania securing 64% of the vote. However, Aliman never lived to see his win. On Sept. 15, the popular incumbent died from coronavirus complications. His name had already been printed on ballots and could not be removed.
To honor his legacy, many of the villagers went to the polling stations on Sunday and voted for Aliman, anyway, reported the Associated Press.
"He was a real mayor to us," a woman from the village of 3,157 said, the BBC reported. "He took the side of the village, respected all the laws. I don't think we will see a mayor like him again."
The BBC reported that the former naval officer was a member of the left-leaning Social Democratic Party, known as PSD, and so was his deputy, Nicolae Dobre, who told a local TV station, Digi24, that “none of the other contenders got the same trust from the voters.”
Aliman would have turned 57. His birthday was on election day.
According to the news outlet, Aliman’s success had been a ray of good news for the PSD party when he was in office. The party had lost several city and council seats across Romania to the center-right USR-PLUS alliance, and to the centrist Partidul Național Liberal, or PNL, which controls the country's minority government.
Villagers gathered at his gravesite lighting candles, paying their respects and saying their final goodbyes that was captured on video on social media this week.
“This is your victory,” said a mourner. “We will make you proud, we know that from somewhere up there you are watching.”