Current Romanian president Klaus Iohannis will face Viorica Dăncilă in the second round of the presidential elections, two separate exit polls showed. Support for the candidate of the ethnic Hungarian party grows.
Iohannis took first place with 38.7%-39% of the votes according to the two polls, a comfortable margin ahead of ousted Social-Democrat Prime Minister Viorica Dăncilă (22-22.5%), who is currently the head of her party. Dăncilă was prime minister of Romania from January 29, 2018, until losing a vote of no confidence a few days ago, November 4.
The exit polls projected a strong result for the candidate of the ethnic Hungarian community, Hunor Kelemen, president of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (RMDSZ). Results showed he would receive just over four percent of the votes. If that holds true, it would mean a stronger result for the Hungarian candidate than when he ran for president in 2009 and 2014. In response to the exit poll data, Kelemen said that the votes he received represented “the results and the voice of a strong community,” adding that the RMDSZ’s program was viable for the entire nation.
“I am convinced that the vision of the future we propose to both our community and the Romanian society will lead to a better country,” Kelemen said.
Klaus Iohannis, an ethnic German and high school physics teacher, entered politics representing the ethnic German minority, was mayor of the Transylvanian town of Szeben (Sibiu, Hermannstadt) for fourteen years from 2000, joined the National Liberal Party (PNL) in 2013, and won the presidency the very next year in the party’s colors. As in his previous campaign, he is again running on an anti-graft ticket.
Of the two other candidates who were considered to have a reasonable chance to enter the second round, Dan Barna, plagued by allegations of corruption and head of the center-right Save Romania Union (USR), received just over 16% of the votes, while actor turned politician Mircea Diaconu received around 8% of the votes.
The campaign for the presidential election was overshadowed by the long-festering government crisis that eventually resulted in parliament voting out Dăncilă’s PSD on October 10 and voting in a new liberal (PNL) government headed by Ludovic Orban, who was installed as prime minister on November 4.
The little campaigning that took place barely even touched upon Romania’s largest crisis: the exodus of its young and middle-aged workforce to better paid jobs in Western Europe. The population of Romania peaked at 23.2 million in 1990, but the country has since lost 3.7 seven million and now has an estimated population of 19.5 million.
The second round of the presidential election will be held on November 24.
Title image: Romanian flag with coat of arms