Victor Ponta Set to Win First Round of Romanian Presidential Race
Romania’s Social Democrat Prime Minister Victor Ponta leads in opinion polls ahead of the first round of presidential elections on November 2.
According to a CSCI poll conducted from October 27 to October 29,the 42-year-old prime minister is expected to garner 40% support, while his main opponent, Liberal Party head Klaus Iohannis, will get 29%.
An October 23 survey by IRES polling agency showed Ponta is set to win 43%of the vote in the first round to Iohannis’ 30 percent, while an October 2-8 survey by INSCOP showed a 10-point lead for Ponta over Iohannis.
The surveys suggest a run-off between Ponta and Iohannis on November 16, which Ponta is expected to win with 55% of the vote, according to the CSCI survey.
Incumbent President Traian Basescu, who will step down in december after 10 years in office because he can’t run for a third five-year term, has accused Ponta of being a former spy - a charge Ponta has dismissed as a lie.
A total of 14 candidates are running for president, including former Regional Development Minister Elena Udrea backed by Basescu and former Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu, who have 8% and 6% percent support, respectively.
Ponta’s popularity seems not to have been badly eroded by corruption investigations of senior Social Democratic Party members. His election pledges include tax cuts, pension hikes, good relations with both the EU and China and even a referendum on the restoration of monarchy.
In Romania, the president wields great powers and the influence of the post goes far beyond ceremonial duties. The head of state names top prosecutors, ambassadors and the heads of Romania’s two main intelligence agencies and is in charge of defence and foreign policy.
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