Romanian president Klaus Iohannis launches re-election bid, vows to fight graft and keep country on pro-Western path


Romanian President Klaus Iohannis on Wednesday launched his bid for re-election laying out his priorities, which include combatting corruption, strengthening the rule of law, Romania’s strategic partnerships with the West and modernizing outdated public administration.

“The year of 2019 is when Romania needs to enter a new stage, one of modernizing the country in a European spirit. We, Romanians, believe in the fundamental values of European civilization, in democracy and freedom,” he said on a post on Facebook.

In a reference to the recently ousted Social Democratic government, which embarked on a contentious judicial overhaul when they came to power in 2016, he said: “People facing criminal probes who needed weakened laws and institutions to save them ended up governing Romania.”

The laws, which critics said would make it harder to pursue high-level corruption cases, drew criticism from the European Union, the U.S. State Department, magistrates and thousands of ordinary Romanians who staged the biggest protests since the 1989 overthrow of communism.

“In recent years we have shown we reject any form of abuse or lack of regard for human dignity. We can’t imagine a Romanian society tomorrow where there is no justice, political pluralism, rule of law, integrity, and equality in front of the law.”

Iohannis is considered the front runner for the Nov. 10 election among 14 candidates. No candidate is expected to win more than 50 percent of the vote leading to a runoff on Nov. 24.

Iohannis said the overriding success of his five-year term in office was to keep the country on “its pro-European and democratic path.” Iohannis is supported by the center-right Liberal Party. The Liberals successfully led a vote of no-confidence to topple the government of Viorica Dancila on Oct. 10 and have been tasked with forming a new government.

Other leading candidates in the race are Dan Barna of the centrist Save Romanian Union and Dancila, who is running for the Social Democrats.

The post of president is an influential one, although the scope of the office is limited. The president has the final say in foreign policy, chairs the country’s top defense body, names ambassadors and key prosecutors and the heads of the country’s main intelligence agencies.

”For three decades, Romania made considerable efforts to break away from its communist past. It fulfilled its national objectives for internal development and consolidating its position abroad: joining NATO and the European Union,” he said.

In a post on his Facebook page, Iohannis announced a public debate of his program on Nov. 27.  His entire manifesto is 144 pages long.

The key principles are:

  • The state in the service of ordinary citizens, rebuilding trust in institutions.
  • A country where the law is respected, guaranteeing the rule of law.
  • A sustainable Romania, promoting education, health and social solidarity.  
  • A prosperous and predictable Romania.
  • A competitive country where entrepreneurship is encouraged, repairing past mistakes with intelligent policies and strategies.
  • A connected Romania, developing infrastructure and digitalizing a European Romania, tapping into the benefits of European integration.
  • A powerful Romania, promoting durable partnerships.  


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