Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta's ruling Party of Social Democrats easily defeated a no-confidence vote in the parliament on September 22. Ponta remains the frontrunner in the race for the Romanian presidency in November.
Just 154 MPs from Romania's two houses of parliament voted in favour of the no-confidence motion, well below the 288 required to oust the government. The result was expected since Ponta's PSD is the largest party in both the senate and the chamber of deputies.
171 MPs from Romania's opposition Christian Liberal Alliance (ACL) brought the censure motion against Ponta, claiming that his party planned to commit electoral fraud in the upcoming presidential election.
Klaus Iohannis, the ACL's presidential candidate and Ponta's main challenger for the presidency, told the parliament that Ponta wanted to give himself an advantage by amending migration policy, "practicing bribery, blackmail and [putting] political pressure on mayors", Romanian daily Ziare reported.
The no-confidence vote took place just two days after Ponta launched his candidacy for president at a ceremony in the National Arena in Bucharest, attended by tens of thousands of supporters.
Iohannis formally submitted his candidacy on September 20, after collecting more than 2.2m signatures. Ethnic German Iohannis, currently the mayor of Sibiu in Transilvania, was selected as the joint candidate for Romania's two main centre-right parties, Democratic Liberal Party and National Liberal Party, which recently merged in order to maximise their chances against Ponta.
Polls point to a run-off between Ponta and Iohannis, with Ponta winning in the second round. The latest poll from CSCI/InfoPolitic released on September 19 gave Ponta a clear lead in the first round of voting, with 42% - though not enough to secure a first round victory for the prime minister. Iohannis would be the runner-up on 27%, with no other candidate expected to take more than 10% of the vote.
Several other candidates - including Romania's intelligence agency chief Teodor Melescanu - have also stepped forward in the last few days. Melescanu announced September 21 that he was quitting the Foreign Intelligence Agency to run for president. On the same day, the leader of the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania, Kelemen Hunor, Basescu's preferred canddidate, People's Movement Party leader Elena Udrea, and Senate Chairman Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, the leader of the Liberal Reformist Party, also entered the race.
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