BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romania's two largest opposition centre-right parties voted unanimously to merge on Saturday, combining their forces ahead of a Nov. 2 presidential election that will pit them against the ruling leftist alliance.
The Liberal (PNL) and Democrat Liberal (PD-L) parties will support a single presidential candidate, hoping to boost their chances against the left's likely candidate, Prime Minister Victor Ponta.
Analysts expect the centre-right's candidate will be Klaus Iohannis, 55, the head of the Liberals and the ethnic German mayor of a city in Transylvania in northern Romania.
With less than four months before the election to replace President Traian Basescu, neither Iohannis nor Ponta have announced their bids, but opinion polls show they are the most likely candidates.
"Together we are stronger and we have the chance not only to win the future election but also to change Romania," Iohannis told his colleagues who had gathered for the Saturday vote.
Both the leftist and centre-right alliances are expected to announce their candidates in August.
The next president will play a pivotal role in appointing a new prime minister and a government line-up to oversee IMF-backed reforms under a 4 billion euro standby deal. The president also appoints judges and prosecutors, important in a country deemed one of the most corrupt in the European Union.
The International Monetary Fund has postponed a review of the aid deal pending the presidential election, which has raised concerns about fiscal discipline.
(Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Gareth Jones)