Romanian liberals choose Klaus Iohannis to challenge for presidency

Newsroom 12/08/2014 | 02:47

Romania’s centre-right opposition on Monday nominated Klaus Iohannis to run for presidency, PNL party leader and Sibiu mayor, pitting him against leftist Prime Minister Victor Ponta who is favoured to win.

“Thank you for the designation!” Iohannis told the joint National Political Bureau of the Christian Liberal Alliance (ACL), the main right-wing election alliance consisted of the National Liberal Party (PNL) and the Democratic Liberal Party (PDL).

The PNL chairman thanked his PDL counterpart Vasile Blaga “for having been able to stick to a schedule we wanted back in June for the merger of the two parties, the establishment of their alliance and the designation of our presidential candidate.”

“I came from Sibiu to Bucharest … Romania can do more, Romania can do better,” Iohannis told reporters, offering a “decade of prosperity and rule of law.”

Some analysts say Iohannis’ German background might serve him well in dealing with the West. He is a supporter of economic reform backed by international lenders under a European Union umbrella.

The next president will play a pivotal role in appointing a new prime minister and a government lineup to oversee International Monetary Fund-backed reforms under a 4 billion euros standby deal – with the loan deal review now being postponed pending the election.

A survey by pollster INSCOP ordered by daily Adevarul last month, showed Ponta had 43.6 percent support, leading Iohannis by more than 12 points. But neither contender would garner enough votes to avoid a Nov. 16 runoff ballot.

Another pollster, Irsop saw Ponta garnering 32 percent and Iohannis 21 percent. Both see Ponta winning the runoff.

Parliament’s two largest opposition groups, the Liberals and the Democrat Liberals, voted unanimously to merge last month, hoping to boost their chances against Ponta in the Nov. 2 poll.

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