Accountability, Stability at Stake in Romania’s Presidential Election

Accountability, Stability at Stake in Romania’s Presidential Election
An elderly man surrounded by campaign posters sits on a bench in front of his home in Floroaica village, Calarasi county, Romania. Nov. 11, 2014 (AP photo by Octav Ganea, Mediafax).

Romanians vote Sunday for a new president after a tumultuous 10 years under incumbent Traian Basescu, who oversaw both European Union accession and an economic boom followed by a crisis, and has survived two attempts at impeachment. Prime Minister Victor Ponta, who heads the ex-Communist Social Democratic Party (PSD), is widely expected to win the vote, but he has faced a closer race than anticipated against liberal rival Klaus Iohannis.

Ponta has been a controversial premier, criticized by both the EU and the U.S. for measures seen as undermining independent institutions after he came to power via a parliamentary coup in April 2012. His attempt to impeach Basescu the following July with a referendum—the second of the PSD’s efforts to do so—also led to international opprobrium. Critics fear that a Ponta victory could lead to greater impunity for a discredited political elite or even a shift toward greater authoritarianism, a pattern some see emerging in the region, following the lead of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. In any case, Romania, a country of great economic promise and substantial importance to Europe, faces a period of political uncertainty.

In the first-round voting on Nov. 2, Ponta took 40 percent of the vote to Iohannis’ 30 percent, putting him in the driver’s seat for this Sunday’s run-off. Although Iohannis is expected to pick up most of the almost 10 percent of the vote that went to two other significant candidates, Ponta, as head of government and leader of Romania’s most formidable national political machine, remains the strong favorite.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review