With more than 75 percent of the votes counted, Romania's Klaus Iohannis appears to have won Sunday's runoff election. His contender and the favored winner, Premier Ponta, has already conceded defeat.
Romania's center-right presidential contender Klaus Iohannis garnered at least 54.8 percent of the ballots cast over the weekend, according to early results on Monday morning. The results were based on roughly 76 percent of votes counted. Meanwhile, Social Democrat Prime Minister Victor Ponta won only 45.2 percent of the vote.
Official results were expected to be released later on Monday.
"The vote has been phenomenal. The turnout was huge," Iohannis told supporters at his campaign headquarters late on Sunday.
The runoff election reportedly saw the highest voter turnout - approximately 62 percent of the eastern European country's 18 million eligible voters - since 1996.
Iohannis, an ethnic German who is currently mayor of Transylvania's main city of Sibiu, was not expected to secure the presidency. In the first election on November 2, only 30 percent of voters cast ballots in his favor, compared to 40 percent for Ponta.
Opinion polls ahead of Sunday's race had also predicted a win for the Social Democrat prime minister.
"I congratulated Mr Iohannis on his victory. The people are always right," Ponta said after conceding defeat on Sunday.
Iohannis will replace Ponta's rival, President Traian Basescu, who after 10 years in office was excluded from a third term. Ponta and Basescu often feuded, prompting constitutional wrangles.
The 55-year-old center-right leader has promised an independent justice system and to turn Romania into a "normal" country. Romania's justice system is currently under special EU supervision.
Voting troubles for expats
On Sunday evening, several thousand people gathered in the Romanian capital, Bucharest, to protest voting conditions outside of the country, leading to long lines and disorganization at foreign polls.
Despite the widespread complaints, Iohannis was still expected to garner the majority of the ballots cast outside the country, which have not yet been included in the preliminary count.
Nearly half of Romanian voters abroad showed overwhelming support for the center-right politician, compared to only 16 percent for Ponta.
kms/ksb (AP, AFP, Reuters)