President Klaus Iohannis Romania was easily re-elected for a new term of office on Sunday. He defeated his socialist challenger in a second voting round with promises to end years of political chaos. He also promised to resume judicial reform, which was delayed by successive corrupt Romanian Social Democratic (PSD) governments.
Iohannis won more than 63 percent of the votes. He was clearly ahead of his PSD counterpart, former prime minister Viorica Dancila, who received 36.9 percent of the vote.
Iohannis can resume and continue Romania's pro-European course in his second term. That will now be easier for him because he can work with a new government that supports him. "Today, modern Romania, European Romania, has won normal Romania," Iohannis said in an initial response. "It's the clearest win against the PSD."
It has been politically turbulent in Romania for several years: on Monday the parliament gave the new government, under the leadership of the new Prime Minister Orban, little confidence. Orban succeeds Dancila as prime minister. When her government fell after months of scandals, it was already the third Romanian government led by Social Democrats who gave up prematurely. The Orban government will govern until the next parliamentary elections, which must take place within the year. But early spring elections are also possible.
Together with Iohannis, Orban hopes to clear the country of corruption, which is rampant, also in political circles.
According to the Central Elections Office in Bucharest, voter turnout was 49.87 percent. That is the lowest level since the fall of communism 30 years ago. Nearly a million Romanians living abroad went to the polls for the first time. The government had widened the possibility of voting at the consulates.
In his first term, the 60-year-old Iohannis was constantly upset with the changing social-democratic governments. The last government under Dancila was overturned by a vote of no confidence; she had to resign on November 4. At the heart of the conflict was the attempt by Dancila's PSD party to weaken criminal justice in favor of corrupt suspects.
Iohannis criticized that, as did the European Commission. The European Commission has been criticizing the inadequate Romanian case law, corruption and favoritism among politicians, businessmen and officials for several years.