Romanian President Klaus Iohannis won a presidential runoff vote on Sunday as expected, crushing his socialist challenger on a pledge to restart a judicial reform slowed down by successive Social Democrat (PSD) governments.
“I promise to be a president for all Romanians,” the 60-year-old Iohannis said after polls had closed. “The winner today is modern Romania, European Romania, the normal Romania.”
Read more: Romania: Seeking a return to normality
An exit poll conducted by IRES pollster showed Iohannis of the Liberal Party (PNL) earned 66.5% of votes, followed by Dancila with 33.5%. An exit poll conducted by CURS-Avangarde showed Iohannis winning with 64%.
Turnout at the election was nearly 50%, making it the lowest since the fall of Communism 30 years ago.
The election was fought amid resentment over judicial reforms seen to benefit PSD politicians, which led to street protests andirked 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-led government collapsed in October in a no-confidence vote, capping months of political uncertainty under the left-wing party.
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.
sms/stb (Reuters, AFP, dpa)