Iohannis Beats Embattled Ex-Prime Minister in First Round of Romania’s Presidential Election

Iohannis Beats Embattled Ex-Prime Minister in First Round of Romania’s Presidential Election

The incumbent seems a sure winter in the second round on November 24.

Romania’s incumbent President Klaus Iohannis has won the first round of Romania’s presidential election, and is due to face much criticized former Prime Minister Viorica Dancila in the runoff.

According to two separate exit polls, Iohannis won about 39% of the votes cast, while Dancila remained second with about 22%, with forecasts that the incumbent would see an easy win in the second round, Reuters reported.

Iohannis is well-known as a pro-Western, anti-corruption figure, an ethnic German who was the former mayor of the city of Sibiu in Transylvania.

Dancila, on the other hand, who became Prime Minister in January 2018, recently lost a no confidence vote over corruption allegations involving the former leader of her Social Democratic Party, Liviu Dragnea.

In May 2019, Dragnea, Dancila’s predecessor as PSD leader, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison after being found guilty of graft. In October, in its post-accession progress monitoring report, the European Commission reported that backtracking in Romania from judicial reform peristed.

“Never have Romanians voted so clearly and decisively against the PSD (Social Democrats). This is a huge step for Romania, for those who want the rule of law applied here,” the 60-year-old Iohannis told reporters.

While the Romanian president has limited power, if reelected, Iohannis would likely act in tandem with the liberal minority government of Prime Minister Ludovic Orban, an ally who won a parliamentary vote of confidence this month, to appoint anti-graft prosector.

Observers said a win for Iohannis might bolster the Liberal Party’s chance of forming a coalition government after a parliamentary election due in 2020 and restore investor confidence, eroded by several years of political instability and fiscal largesse.

Romania’s election commission, which is expected to announce partial official results on Monday, put the turnout of Sunday’s presidential election at 48%, with a record high 660,000 voters among the country’s diaspora taking part.

(Banner image: Klaus Iohannis on Twitter)

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