Romanian prime minister Victor Ponta led after the first round of presidential elections, according to exit polls after voting closed on November 2. Turnout was 52.3 per cent, the election bureau said.
Social-democrat leader Ponta had between 38 per cent and 41 per cent of the votes, with the joint candidate put forward by a group of centre-right parties, Sibiu mayor Klaus Iohannis, at between 31 per cent and 32 per cent, exit polls carried by Romanian broadcasters showed. Three other candidates – Elena Udrea, Calin Popescu Tariceanu and Monica Macovei – had about six per cent each, the exit polls said.
Ponta, who had avoided televised debates before the first round of the election, said that his campaign had agreed four TV appearances in the two weeks leading to the November 16 run-off and invited Iohannis to hold “constructive discussions”.
The elections outside Romania were reportedly marred by large queues formed outside diplomatic missions in several major European cities, including London, Paris and Munich, with thousands of people waiting for hours in order to cast ballots, broadcaster Realitatea TV said. The station quoted witnesses saying that polling stations abroad had been unprepared to deal with the large numbers of voters, having not enough booths, staff and voting stamps.
Incumbent president Traian Basescu, ineligible to stand for re-election after spending the constitutional limit of two terms in office, called for the resignation of foreign minister Titus Corlatean and the minister without portfolio for Romanians abroad, Bogdan Stanoevici. Iohannis and Macovei had called on the electoral authorities to extend voting abroad.
Asked about the accusations that the government failed in its organisation of voting abroad, Ponta said that all decisions regarding the holding of elections were the responsibility of the permanent election authority. He said that the delay was caused by more rigorous efforts to prevent voting fraud, claiming that such fraud decided the outcome of the run-off in 2009. Basescu won re-election by a margin of about 70 000 votes in 2009, winning the voting abroad by about 84 000 votes.
(Photo: Axente Ovidiu/sxc.hu)