Nov 16, 2014 4:52 AM
Romanians cast ballots in presidential runoff
The Associated Press
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) A prime minister who has promised stability and a city mayor who has vowed to fight corruption squared off in Romania's presidential runoff election on Sunday.
Tens of thousands of Romanians living overseas hope it will be easier for them to cast ballots than it was during the Nov. 2 election that led to the runoff.
Prime Minister Victor Ponta was favored on Sunday over the mayor of the city of Sibiu, Klaus Iohannis. Ponta led by 10 percentage points in the Nov. 2 vote, and corruption probes of senior Ponta aides appeared not to have dented the 42-year-old former prosecutor's chances.
Iohannis, 55, has promised an independent justice system if he becomes president.
Election results are expected Monday, and the winner will replace President Traian Basescu, who is stepping down after 10 years in office.
In Romania, the president is in charge of foreign policy and defense, and names key prosecutors and the chiefs of intelligence services.
After casting his ballot in Bucharest on Sunday, Ponta said: "I voted so that all mothers and our grandparents can live in a better country. ... I voted so that all children have a better future here in Romania."
Iohannis, an ethnic German who voted in his city of Sibiu, said he wants a country where there is "respect and prosperity, a strong Romania."
Officials said turnout was about 44.5 percent by late afternoon, around 10 percent higher than during the Nov. 2 election.
"I'm voting for Ponta because he's Romanian," said a Roma woman selling potatoes who only identified herself as Florina.
But farmer Vasile Stoica Vasile, 47, said he supported Iohannis "because we want to develop the middle class. Unfortunately, in Romania, the middle class, which is the motor of our society doesn't exist."
Romanians living overseas must vote at polling stations in the countries where they are, and thousands of expats protested after they had to stand in line for hours in cities such as Paris, London, and Munich during the first round. Some were unable to vote.
The government says it has improved the voting procedure this time at facilities including Romanian embassies.
On Sunday, some Romanians waved toothbrushes to protest long waits at polling stations abroad and thousands protested in Munich, according to Mediafax news.