Ponta leads Romania presidency vote, say first polls

Romanian Prime Minister and candidate of the centre-left coalition Victor Ponta (right) and his wife Daciana Sarbu cast their ballot at a polling station in Bucharest on November 2, 2014Romania’s Prime Minister Victor Ponta looked set to win the first round of a presidential election Sunday, despite fears he could reverse reforms aimed at tackling the rampant corruption that blights one of Europe’s poorest countries. The vote is seen as a crucial test for the former communist country at a time when democracy has suffered setbacks in some neighbouring states such as Hungary, and as the Ukraine crisis has shaken relations between the European Union and Russia. Romania’s election campaign has been marred by scandal, with numerous corruption probes including some aimed at allies of the prime minister, and a settling of scores between Ponta and his long-standing rival President Traian Basescu. Ponta, a social democrat, has been premier for two stormy years of cohabitation with Basescu, and is likely to face 55-year-old liberal Klaus Iohannis, from the German-speaking minority, in a November 16 runoff.

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