Romanian prime minister Victor Ponta won 40.3 per cent in the first round of presidential elections held on November 2, with 98.3 per cent of the ballots counted, the country’s electoral bureau said.
Social-democrat leader Ponta is set to face Sibiu mayor Klaus Iohannis, whose nomination was backed by several centre-right parties, in a run-off on November 16. Iohannis won 30.4 per cent of the vote.
None of the other 12 candidates came even close to challenge the duo’s standing as favourites to face off in a run-off – former liberal prime minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu, who left the party over its decision to break the alliance with the social-democrats earlier this year, was third with 5.4 per cent.
MP Elena Udrea, backed by incumbent president Traian Basescu, who cannot run for another term, won 5.2 per cent and former justice minister and anti-corruption activist Monica Macovei had 4.5 per cent.
Ponta’s 10-point lead makes him the favourite for the run-off, with Iohannis needing to stage the biggest comeback in Romania’s post-communist history to win the presidency, eclipsing Basescu’s swing in 2004, when he trailed by seven points after the first round but won the run-off by 2.5 per cent.
(Romanian prime minister Victor Ponta. Photo: Social-Democrat Party/flickr.com)