In Romania, the liberal Klaus Iohannis tops the first round of the presidential election


The outgoing president is expected to face Viorica Dancila in the second round. Official results are expected Monday.

By Mirel Bran Posted today at 21h41, updated at 22h51

Time to Reading 3 min.

Klaus Iohannis at a press conference in Bucharest on 10 November.
Klaus Iohannis at a press conference in Bucharest on 10 November. INQUAM PHOTOS / REUTERS

German and pro-European liberal Klaus Iohannis, outgoing president, came first in the first round of the presidential election held in Romania on Sunday 10 November. With 36% of votes, according to first estimates, the candidate of the National Liberal Party (PNL) ahead of the Social Democrat and former Prime Minister Viorica Dancila (PSD, 26%), 55, overthrown by parliament last month, and Dan Barna (13%), 44, representing a young pro-European party (USR Plu).

Official results are expected Monday. By including the vote of the diaspora favorable to the liberal camp, of which a record number of 650,000 voted, they could change the situation. And according to the political commentators, the hypothesis of a second round, the opposition of Mr. Iohannis to Dan Barna, spokesman of a party often presented as a Romanian version of the "Republic in motion" is not totally impossible.

End of a long battle against the PSD

At 60, including 20 in politics, Mr. Iohannis remains the winner of Sunday. And the vote marks already the epilogue of its long battle against the sociodemocrats. If the man has campaigned promising to continue to modernize a country still marked by the past of the communist dictatorship former physics professor and former leader of the Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania, has especially highlighted the preservation of the The rule of law which, according to him, was flouted by his competitor social democrat and former head of government. "Romanians decide today on the future of their country for the next few years"he had said Sunday when voting.

Since its return to power in 2016, the PSD, which has presented itself as the defender of national interests against the Community institutions, is accused by Brussels of trying to muzzle justice. The PSD reportedly tried to clear the criminal record of its leader, Liviu Dragnea, sentenced in 2016 to three years in prison suspended for electoral fraud and Mrs. Viorica Dancila would, for that, triggered an offensive against the magistrates. These attacks were unsuccessful. Partly because Mr. Iohannis did not stop, to face this government. In May, it holds a consultative referendum to prohibit forgiveness or amnesty for those convicted of corruption and to prevent the government from resorting to emergency court orders.

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Parliament confidence obtained on 4 November

Despite a more or less open call for a boycott by the PSD, the consultation was won hands down by the Iohannis camp, offering a scathing disavowal to the sociodemocrats. Six months later, a motion of censure overthrowing the government of Ms. Dancila will mark a new defeat of the PSD. It will be followed by the victory of the PNL which, after having obtained the confidence of the Parliament on November 4th, with the support, notably of the party USR-Plu, will bring to power the pro-European Ludovic Orban.

The vote in favor of this new center-right government will put an end to a political crisis that has contributed to delaying the establishment of the new Commission in Brussels chaired by Germany's Ursula von der Leyen, whose team was incomplete. in part because of the absence of a Romanian commissioner, who is being approached for the transport portfolio. The Social Democrat Viorica Dancila had tried to impose her family in Brussels, starting with Rovana Plumb, whose candidacy had been rejected at the end of September by the European Parliament because of conflicts of interest.

"If Dancila faces Iohannis in the second round, we have to expect a linear and boring campaign. Iohannis having every chance of winning. If Barna is in the second round, the battle of the next two weeks will be much more intense. "analyst Radu G. Magdin concludes in a note published on Sunday, not ruling out the possibility of a victory for " black Swan ", an outsider. The second round is scheduled for November 24th.

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