Romanian president heads toward second term

Romanian president heads toward second term
By Iulian Ernst in Bucharest November 22, 2019

Romania will hold the second ballot of the presidential election on November 24, in which President Klaus Iohannis is virtually guaranteed a second term, as polls show he will defeat recently-ousted prime minister Viorica Danicla convincingly. 

In the first round on November 10, Iohannis, running on the ticket of the centre right National Liberal Party (PNL), received 37.8% of the votes, while Dancila, the Social Democratic Party’s (PSD’s) candidate, received only 22.3% of the votes.

 In the second round, the other two candidates of the centre right parties, Dan Barna of Save Romania Union (USR)) and Alexandru Paleologu of the Popular Movement Party (PMP), who together received around 20% of the votes, expressed their support for Iohannis — who is thus expected to receive the votes of many of their first round supporters, most likely pushing his share of the vote in the runoff to more than 60%. 

While the two politicians clashed repeatedly during Dancila’s time as prime minister, the election campaign period was notable for the lack of direct debates between the two. 

Each of them held separate “debates” with media, with unclear impact on their scores. Iohannis was criticised by some of his supporters for the refusal to at least invite journalists that would have challenged his rhetoric about past achievements and Romania’s promising future. Dancila was criticised for her mistakes as prime minister, but was applauded by some for taking questions from any journalist willing to attend the conference (as opposed to the handpicked guests of President Iohannis).

For Dancila, what is at stake is whether she will get a strong enough score to remain at the top of her party.  

The PSD recently lost its majority, and was replaced in office by a new government headed by the PNL. Previously, the PSD led no less than three governments over the past three years, during which it was heavily criticised for its attempts to bend the rule of law and save top politicians from jail. With a new president, Dancila, the PSD is now striving to convince Romanians it has changed its attitude and it wants to become a genuine social democratic party concerned with social issues.