Romania’s President Iohannis eyes new term

Voting got underway in Romania's presidential election on Sunday, with incumbent pro-European Klaus Iohannis a clear favourite to win the largest vote share, but probably not enough for an outright win, news wires reported. Recent surveys have forecast Iohannis winning as much as 47%, meaning he is likely to fall short of an absolute majority, paving the way for a second round of voting on 24 November.

Iohannis hails from the centre-right National Liberal Party (PNL) and says that a victory for the left-wing Social Democrat (PSD) candidate, former PM Viorica Dancila, would pose a threat to democracy. The PSD's spell in government, which began in late 2016, saw the party repeatedly clash with Brussels and Iohannis over allegations it was trying to push through controversial judicial reforms in order to neuter the judiciary and benefit PSD politicians. The beleaguered left-wing government collapsed in a no-confidence vote last month. Earlier this week MPs gave their backing to a government led by the PNL's Ludovic Orban.

Polls indicate Dancila will face a tough fight for second place with 44-year-old Dan Barna, who heads the country's third largest party, the recently formed pro-European center-right Save Romania Union (USR) party.

While lacking an executive role, Romania’s president has significant decision-making powers, including on matters of national security and foreign policy, and can reject party nominees for the prime minister and government nominees for judicial appointments. The president, elected for a 5-year term, can also return legislation approved by parliament, but has to ratify it if lawmakers back it a second time.

Iohannis said he will continue to strengthen the rule of law and to support anti-corruption measures.


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