Romanians go to polls to elect next president

Romanians go to polls to elect next president

Sun Nov 16, 2014 8:6AM GMT

Romanians have gone to the polls in a runoff election to choose their next president, as opinion polls put incumbent Prime Minister Victor Ponta ahead of his rival.

The polls opened at 07:00 a.m. local time on Sunday and the first results are expected overnight.

According to the latest opinion polls, Social Democrat Ponta, 42, will manage to garner 54 percent of the votes.

The incumbent premier enjoys the support of the highly influential Romanian Orthodox Church and his popularity is due to his success in improving the country’s economy.

His conservative rival Klaus Iohannis, 55, has in turn pledged to reinforce the rule of law and to attract more foreign investment to the EU’s second poorest country. Opinion surveys show that Iohannis will secure 30 percent of the votes.

Another factor which can turn the tables is the diaspora, as up to four million Romanians live abroad, with only a fraction of them voting in elections.

Many of the Romanians living abroad reportedly were unable to cast their ballots during the first round of the election on November 2 due to long queues and bureaucratic hurdles at the country’s embassies across the European Union and some other countries.

Thousands in Romania held protest rallies following the first round of the vote, forcing Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean to step down on November 10.

Romania’s president is responsible for foreign policy and appointment of top officials, including prosecutors.

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