Romania’s Iohannis tipped to win presidential runoff
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis and former prime minister Viorica Dancila are due to compete in a second round of the presidential election after the first round on Sunday.
Iohannis, an independent supported by the National Liberal Party (PNL), received 37 per cent of the vote, while Dancila, the leader of the Social Democrat Party (PSD), received 23 per cent support. Dan Barna, the USR Plus alliance candidate, finished third with 14 per cent and is eliminated.
Barna has endorsed centrist Iohannis ahead of the November 24 runoff.
The USR Plus, Barna’s party, was founded to oppose corruption and finished third in the 2016 general election.
The Liberals, Iohannis’ party, have rejected Dancila’s calls for a public debate. His campaign manager Dan Motreanu said a debate would add nothing to the conversation. Some observers criticised Iohannis for failing to attend debates ahead of the first round.
Iohannis asked Romanians to turn up again on November 24 and deny power to the party that has dominated Romanian politics since the fall of communism.
Dancila said she was happy to have made it into the second round, despite allegations of corruption surrounding the PSD.
Around 675,000 Romanians living overseas voted, a fourfold rise on the previous presidential election. The increase was partly due to expats being given three days to cast their ballots rather than one and also the option of voting by post.
Huge queues appeared at polling stations in the 2014 presidential election and during May’s European election.
Overall turnout was less than 47 per cent, according to G4media, the lowest presidential election turnout since 1989.
Iohannis, who won his first term as president in 2014, is the heavy favourite to beat Dancila in the second round with the heavy support of Romanian expats and urban voters.
Under a succession of PSD governments, Romania relaxed anti-corruption rules, joining former communist Poland and Hungary in facing criticism from the European Commission over undermining the rule of law.
Iohannis has challenged a PSD overhaul of the judiciary and attempts to limit legal independence.
If re-elected, Iohannis will have a chance to install chief prosecutors willing to tackle corruption, supported by the liberal minority government of Prime Minister Ludovic Orban, an ally who secured a parliamentary vote of confidence earlier this month.
Iohannis held a referendum where a large majority of Romanians said they wanted the government to be banned from altering legislation through emergency decrees and has advocated a ban on granting amnesties and pardons for corruption.
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis. Picture credit: Wikimedia