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Nov 19, 2014 11:56 AM

Romania's president-elect and former king meet

The Associated Press

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) Former King Michael, who ruled Romania during World War II, invited the country's president-elect to lunch at the palace on Wednesday.

Klaus Iohannis, the mayor of Sibiu, scored a stunning victory over Prime Minister Victor Ponta in Sunday's presidential runoff, generating a feel-good factor among Romanians.

Before the meal, hundreds of people gathered outside the palace, waving flags and shouting "King Michael!"

Little known in Romania before the election, Iohannis notched up more than 1 million likes on his Facebook page after his victory. He has invited Michael to his inauguration next month.

The former king who ruled Romania from 1927 to 1930, and 1940 to 1947 is now 93 years old and Europe's last surviving World War II leader.

Both men are of German descent, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Iohannis on Wednesday to congratulate him, her government said.

"The clear vote for Iohannis was the expression of a wish for the strengthening of Romania's European orientation, particularly in the area of the rule of law and transparency," Merkel was quoted as saying.

Merkel and Iohannis also discussed the situation in Ukraine and in Moldova, which will hold elections on Nov. 30. In Moldova, pro-European parties are competing with parties seeking closer ties to Moscow. Hundreds of thousands of Moldovans have Romanian citizenship, and many of them used absentee ballots to help Iohannis defeat Ponta.

In 1947, King Michael was forced to abdicate by communists, and he went into exile until 1997. He now lives at the palace in Bucharest or at a home in Switzerland.


Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed to this report.


An earlier version of this story indicated incorrectly that Iohannis and Michael are currently leaders of Romania.


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