Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Exit polls: Romanian PM will face mayor in runoff

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Exit polls in Romania suggest that center-left prime minister will face a city mayor in a runoff of a presidential election after no candidate secured a majority in Sunday's voting.

Two exit polls showed Victor Ponta leading with 38 to 40 percent of the vote and the center-right mayor of the Transylvanian city of Sibiu, Klaus Iohannis, was second with 31 to 32 percent.

First official results were expected early Monday. A runoff would be held on Nov. 16;

Romanians were voting to elect a new leader as President Traian Basescu steps down after 10 years.

"Romanians have had enough of 'Laurel and Hardy' fights, I will be a president of all Romanians," Ponta said after polls closed, referring to his bitter rivalry with Basescu, who steps down in December.

Basescu — known for his outspoken and often critical comments about politicians and Romania's legal system — also acknowledged Romania needed a different style of president.

"We need a president who will consolidate the rule of the law," he said.

Romanians voting in London, Paris and Munich protested loudly that they had to wait for hours in line, according to reports on television and social media. About 100 people gathered outside the foreign ministry in Bucharest to protest.

Turnout in the election was 52.3 percent, officials said.

Some voters in Romania said they wanted a president who would present a good image of this nation of 19 million.

"I want a president who is not corrupt, has a good standing and understands foreign policy," said Alexandru Antoniu, a 36-year-old engineer, saying he would vote for anti-corruption crusader Monica Macovei.

Security guard Ilie Stefan, 26, said he was planning to vote after his shift ended. "I want a president who will make sure that we are not seen as a nation of thieves because we aren't, we work," he said.

The president is in charge of defense and foreign policy and appoints the chiefs of the country's two main intelligence agencies, as well as top prosecutors and ambassadors.

The 42-year-old Ponta is a former prosecutor whose popularity appears not to have been badly damaged by corruption probes of senior members of his Social Democratic Party. He has pledged lower taxes, higher pensions, and to uphold good relations with both the European Union and China.

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