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Romania reelects President Klaus Iohannis

November 24, 2019

Incumbent Klaus Iohannis has scored a resounding victory in the second round of Romania's presidential election. Iohannis pledged to fight corruption after the fall of the center-left government.

Klaus Iohannis smiling
Image: Reuters/Inquam Photos/O. Ganea

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis won a presidential runoff vote on Sunday, earning almost twice as many votes as his challenger Viorica Dancila from the PSD Social Democrat (PSD), exit polls showed.

"The winner today is modern Romania, European Romania, the normal Romania," said the 60-year-old Iohannis, who was born in the former socialist country as a member of German national minority. 

"I receive this victory with joy, thankfulness, modesty and with faith in Romania," he said.

Read more: Romania: Seeking a return to normality

Iohannis' first five-year term saw him repeatedly bump heads with successive PSD governments. Ahead of the Sunday vote, he pledged to fight corruption and restart judicial reform with allies in the new, center-right government led by the center-right National Liberal Party (PNL).  

The former physics teacher urged people to go out and vote, sharing photos from the polling station.

With most of the votes counted, Iohannis had earned 63.2% of votes, followed by PSD leader Viorica Dancila with 36.8%.

Turnout at the election was about 50%, making it the lowest since the fall of Communism 30 years ago.

PSD defeated, Dragnea jailed

The election was fought amid resentment over judicial reforms seen to benefit PSD politicians, which led to street protests and irked European Union leaders. Iohannis has been praised by the EU for his attempts to protect the rule of law in Romania and for challenging attempts to curtail the independence of the judiciary. 

The PSD former leader and strongman Liviu Dragnea was jailed on corruption charges in May, and the PSD-led government collapsed in a no-confidence vote in October.

Iohannis, whose power includes nominating the prime minister, challenging laws in the Constitutional Court and appointing some chief prosecutors, is expected to install anti-corruption prosecutors serious about tackling graft.

Iohannis' victory is regarded as giving a boost to the PNL before parliamentary elections in 2020.

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dj, sms, jsi/stb (Reuters, AFP, dpa)