The Romanians have elected a new president. 18.2 million voters were called to vote on Sunday. As a favorite in the first round of voting was incumbent Klaus Iohannis. It was expected that the pro-European center-right politician would be given the mandate for another term in a possible runoff election on 24 November.
Initial projections were expected shortly after the polling stations closed at 9:00 pm (local time, 8:00 pm CEST). Iohannis gave his voice in the morning at a polling station in Bucharest. "Today, the Romanians decide on the future of their country," said the 60-year-old then before journalists. In the election campaign, the president had mainly promoted the issue of the rule of law and the fight against corruption.
His main rival, Social Democrat Viorica Dancila, who stepped down as prime minister in October, said she voted for a "safe and dignified Romania."
Iohannis had called Dancilas Social Democratic PSD in the election campaign as a threat to democracy. Dancila's reign since 2016 was marked by conflicts with the EU over planned cuts in the Romanian judicial system. The opposition accused her of corruption. Last week, the new Romanian Prime Minister Ludovic Orban was sworn in by the liberal-conservative PNL party.
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In fact, the PSD could miss the first time since the turn of a presidential election to move into the runoff. In addition to Dancila, the head of the newly founded pro-USR party, Dan Barna, and former actor Mircea Diaconu fought for second place in the first round of voting. In total, 14 candidates applied for presidential office.
Iohannis, who belongs to the German minority of Romania, is seen in Eastern Europe as an opponent of the anti-European Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and the right-wing national ruling party "Law and Justice" (PiS). His first term as President he joined in 2014.
The votes of the approximately four million Romanians living abroad also count as decisive for the outcome of the election. As a rule, they support a majority of liberal candidates. By Sunday morning, 300,000 of the voters living abroad had already voted – a record attendance in a first round of elections in a presidential election.