Speed Reads

Democracy in action

Mayor from Transylvania wins Romanian presidency in an upset

Klaus Iohannis, the mayor of the Transylvanian town of Sibiu, was elected president of Romania on Sunday, in a major upset over Prime Minister Victor Ponta. Ponta, who easily beat Iohannis in the first round, conceded before the votes were even counted in Sunday's runoff, but insisted he will stay on as prime minister and that his Social Democrat alliance would retain its majority in parliament until elections scheduled for 2016. With three quarter of the votes counted, Iohannis was 10 points ahead of Ponta. Voter turnout was the highest since 1996.

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Iohannis was backed by two center-right parties, Reuters says, but the decisive issue of the campaign seems to have been Ponta's government's perceived slight of voters outside Romania, who had to wait in long lines in the first round. Iohannis will be the first Romania president from an ethnic minority, though his German Saxon forebears settled in Romania in medieval times.