11 November 2019 06:32

Fed Cup Simona Halep Kristina Mladenovic

Romania's Iohannis On Top As He Heads For Presidential Runoff Versus Dancila

Partial results in Romania's presidential election on Sunday show that incumbent President Klaus Iohannis will likely fail to receive an outright majority, making a runoff necessary. The 60-year-old centrist liberal received some 36% support, with Social Democrat (PSD) leader Viorica Dancila in second place with 24%. Iohannis, an anti-graft policymaker who has won praise in the West for his commitment to the rule of law, is widely seen as winning any second-round vote. Dancila was prime minister until last month, when her PSD was ousted in a no-confidence vote over corruption allegations. Observers said a win for Iohannis might bolster the National Liberal Party's chance of forming a stronger coalition after next year's parliamentary election and restore investor confidence eroded by several years of political instability and high levels of public spending.

But a succession of PSD governments has tried to roll back certain anti-corruption rules in recent years, joining the ranks of other ex-communist states in the bloc in incurring criticism over the rule of law. Watch video 02:49 Share Helping Romania's Roma Send Facebook google+ Whatsapp Tumblr linkedin stumble Digg reddit Newsvine Permalink Helping Romania's Roma population step out of poverty Voting got underway in Romania's presidential election after a lackluster campaign overshadowed by a political crisis which saw a minority government installed just a few days ago. Two exit polls show President Klaus Iohannis picking up nearly 40% of the votes in the first round of Romania's presidential election, followed by Viorica Dancila, the recently ousted prime minister, with about 22%. IRES had the center-right Iohannis with 38.7% of the votes and Dancila, of the Social Democratic Party, with 22%. Iohannis says the exit polls show that "millions of Romanians in the country and abroad voted for our project, for a normal Romania." Both exit polls had Dan Barna, of the center-right Save Romania Union, receiving slightly more than 16% of the votes.

Romania is holding a presidential election after a lackluster campaign overshadowed by the country's political crisis, which saw a minority government installed just days ago. Around 18.2 million voters are eligible to cast ballots in Sunday's election for one of 14 candidates vying for the five-year presidential term. He appeared to be followed by center-left candidate Viorica Dancila, who until last month was Romania's prime minister; independent Mircea Diaconu, a former actor and theater director; and Dan Barna, head of the country's third largest party, the center-right Save Romania Union. Romania's pro-European Union incumbent President Klaus Iohannis has taken a big lead in the first round of the country's presidential election, according to official results based on 90 percent of polling stations counted. The partial results indicate that he will face the recently ousted prime minister, Social Democratic Party (PSD) leader Viorica Dancila, in a runoff.

Meanwhile, Dan Barna, who heads Romania's third largest party--center-right Save Romania Union (USR), came third with 13 percent of the votes. Iohannis, who faced a total of 13 candidates in the first-round, claimed victory in front of cheering supporters at his campaign headquarters. "But the war is not over, we have to take another step forward in two weeks," the 60-year-old leader said, referring to the second round ballot. Dancila said she was "happy" with the results from the exit polls, adding: "We are present in the second round." Meanwhile, Barna expressed confidence that he could reach the second round of voting, saying "Romanians abroad are still voting." Iohannis's candidacy was supported by the ruling center-right National Liberal Party (PNL) that he once headed and which now leads the newly installed minority government of Prime Minister Ludovic Orban. "I voted for a normal Romania," Iohannis told reporters at a Bucharest polling station earlier on November 10, echoing a campaign phrase.

Iohannis says he wants to modernize Romania's state institutions to prevent the kind of corruption scandals the country has faced for years. Dancila, who had been Romania's prime minister until last month when she was ousted by a parliamentary vote of no confidence, told supporters she voted "for a safe and dignified Romania." The PSD is Romania's largest political party but is in disarray after years of corruption scandals. Barna is a 44-year-old lawyer whose allies are similarly pro-EU politicians who'd been in the opposition against the PSD-led government until Dancila's recent ouster. Romania's pro-Europe President Klaus Iohannis has taken a big lead in the first round of the country's presidential election on Sunday, according to partial official results. With votes from 90 percent of polling stations counted, Iohannis stands on just over 36 percent, with his nearest rival, former Social Democrat (PSD) prime minister Viorica Dancila, on 24 percent. "But the war is not over, we have to take another step forward in two weeks," he said, referring to the second round ballot on November 24. Iohannis now seems "assured of a second five-year term" as voters for lower-placed candidates will largely swing behind him, political analyst Andrei Taranu told AFP. A Iohannis victory would potentially add to a liberal fightback against the region's prevailing nationalism, following the election of an anti-corruption activist as Slovakia's president and a centre-left candidate as mayor of the Hungarian capital Budapest. Dancila meanwhile said she was "happy" with the result, adding: "We are present in the second round, I thank those who voted with their hearts." A record 650,000 votes from Romanians abroad--who tend to favour liberal candidates--will take longer to count but analysts say they will likely not be enough to knock Dancila out of the race. The third-placed candidate, Dan Barna from the recently-formed pro-EU Save Romania Union (USR) party, is on around 13 percent. Iohannis, who hails from the centre-right National Liberal Party (PNL), repeatedly clashed with the beleaguered PSD government, which collapsed last month. Dancila served as the last prime minister in that government, which took power after the PSD won parliamentary elections in 2016. While nationalism has been less present in Romanian politics than in Hungary or Poland, the PSD had tried to frame its clashes with European Union institutions as evidence that the party was standing up for Romania. However, as the German magazine Osteuropa pointed out in a recent editorial, at May's European Parliament elections "while Fidesz and (Poland's ruling) PiS party won on the back of anti-Brussels campaigns, Romanian voters punished the government and sent a pro-European signal". The PSD's heavy losses in the European polls added to a series of travails for Dancila's government which eventually saw it brought down by parliament in a no-confidence vote last month.