Romania’s presidental election appears to have gone to form with Prime Minister Victor Ponta ahead of the rest of the field.
According to exit polls the leftist Social Democrat who was favourite, has taken the first round but failed to win enough votes to avoid a run-off.
Speaking to supporters Ponta was in no doubt about the eventual outcome.
“As a president for Romanians…I think we will be able to start moving….on the road to unity and working and living together, with the millions of Romanians that voted for me, but also along with the ones who voted for others or didn’t vote at all.”
Ponta may be confident about winning the November 16 run-off but the man likely to challenge him, Klaus Iohannis has other ideas:
“I’m the only candidate remaining in the competition who is ready to guarantee justice, independence and the rule of law,” said
Iohannis who is an ethnic German mayor, backed by two centre-right parties.
Any run-off is not a forgone conclusion, the result will depend on who the first round losers – and there are 12 of them – decide to fall in behind.
In Romania the president is not only a ceremonial figure – the position allows the leader to exert influence on the executive by appointing the new prime minister, judges and prosecuters. He can also stall government policy proposals.
Romania is the second poorest state in the European Union ( which it joined in 2007) and also one of the blocs most corrupt member states, according to Transparency International.