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Romania to hold presidential elections in November

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Bucharest (AFP)

Romania will hold presidential elections in November, the prime minister announced Tuesday, with the ruling Social Democrats still reeling from poor EU election results and its leader being jailed for corruption.

Centre-right incumbent Klaus Iohannis, a vocal government critic, will run for re-election in the November 10 polls.

A second round is scheduled for November 24 if no candidate receives more than 50 percent of votes from all of the country's eligible voters in the first round, with a run-off widely expected.

The ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD) is still searching for a candidate to take on Iohannis.

The party was thrown into disarray by a double blow in May when it was thrashed in European Parliament polls -- its share of the vote plunging to 23 percent from 37 percent in 2014 -- and its leader, Liviu Dragnea, was sent to jail for corruption.

Iohannis was elected president in 2014 after a surprise win over the favourite Victor Ponta, then prime minister and PSD leader.

In Romania, the president is primarily responsible for foreign policy and nominating top positions. Iohannis has also used his platform to repeatedly criticise the government.

The 60-year-old from the country's German minority enjoys a high level of confidence as he aims for a second five-year term.

So far, no one else has announced they will run for president.

Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, who was elected PSD president last month after Dragnea's jailing, has refused to contest for the presidency, saying she is not a household name powerful enough to lead the party to victory.

The party's leadership will gather in August to choose a candidate, with local media saying that Finance Minister Eugen Teodorovici is the favourite.

The newly formed centre-right alliance USR-PLUS, which startled the political landscape by gaining some 22 percent of votes in the European elections, said it will choose a candidate by the end of July.

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