By Radu Sigheti
CRAIOVA, Romania, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Thousands of Romanians rallied in favour of the leftist government coalition in the southern town of Craiova on Friday, the last day of a lacklustre political campaign ahead of Sunday's parliamentary election.
The Social Liberal Union (USL) of Prime Minister Victor Ponta is likely to win a comfortable majority, opinion polls showed, but the vote may prolong a political standoff that has delayed policy-making and raised concerns about the country's IMF-led aid deal.
Ponta's USL tried but failed to kick out right-wing President Traian Basescu earlier this year, in an impeachment referendum. Analysts have said Basescu, a rival of the USL who will nominate the next prime minister, may not choose Ponta, the USL's choice for the job.
That could delay the formation of a new government and complicate talks over a new deal with the IMF. Any uncertainty would also hit the value of Romanian assets.
Roughly 5,000 people attended the rally in Craiova, 320 km west of Bucharest, home of U.S. carmaker Ford and a USL flagship town. It was one of the few rallies by any party in this campaign.
"I must vote," Florin Sanda, a 27-year-old electrician said at the rally. "Given the opposing candidates, the USL stands out."
The ruling leftists have benefited from voter disillusionment with Basescu and his allies in the previous centrist government which pushed through unpopular public sector wage cuts and hiked sales tax to shore up public finances.
"The tense relation between President Basescu and the USL alliance does not bode well for a smooth process," Raiffeisen Bank said in a research note.
"Forming a new cabinet is important for both the vote of the 2013 budget and the start of negotiations with the IMF." (Writing by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Jon Hemming)