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PM Ponta tipped to come out on top in Romania presidential election


Romania

PM Ponta tipped to come out on top in Romania presidential election

Romanians are voting in the first round of a presidential election on Sunday with 14 candidates hoping to replace Traian Basescu who is stepping down after a decade in office.

It is a key moment for one of Europe’s poorest countries with opinion polls making Prime Minister Victor Ponta frontrunner for the largely ceremonial post.

A former prosecutor and amateur rally driver, Ponta has weathered several political storms. His leftist alliance commands a large majority in parliament.

Victory would give him a pivotal role in appointing a new premier and cabinet to oversee an IMF-led aid deal and reforms.

His main challenger is likely to be provincial mayor Klaus Iohannis, an ethnic German, backed by two centre-right parties but criticised by Ponta’s allies for his wealth – he owns six houses.

A close ally of the current president, Elena Udrea is another key player in the race, which is widely expected to go to a second round.

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