Monday, December 22, 2014

Romanian parliament swears in former mayor as country’s new president

Romania’s parliament swore in a former mayor as the country’s new president following an election he called a triumph for democracy, 25 years after communism ended.

Pro-western Klaus Iohannis, 55, promises a different style from combative outgoing leader, Traian Basescu, who leaves office on Sunday, having served a maximum 10 years.

Iohannis also vowed to fight corruption and build “a powerful nation”, as he took an oath Sunday before parliament, then headed to the presidential palace to formally take over from Basescu.

“Mentalities must be changed,” he told lawmakers and dignitaries. “I want a Romania where there is no place for putting on a show” in politics.

He surprisingly defeated prime minister Victor Ponta in the 16 November runoff, tapping into anger from thousands of overseas voters who were unable to vote in the first round. Iohannis received hundreds of thousands of votes from Romanians who work abroad, calling it a triumph for democracy.

His victory sent a feelgood factor through the nation of 19 million and he notched up almost 1.3m likes on Facebook.

Atypical for Romanian politics, the slow-speaking ethnic German mayor of Sibiu refuses to participate in bitter personal attacks. He promises good relations with the US, the European Union and particularly Germany.

Basescu was credited with a commitment to the anti-corruption fight and has a strong pro-US stance. The US will open a missile defense base in southern Romania, which has angered Russia.

Romania was suspected of hosting a CIA secret prison which it has denied. On Saturday, Basescu declined to comment on the most recent reports, saying Romanian prosecutors were investigating.

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