August 24, 2019 / 11:58 AM / a month ago

Romanian PM Dancila gets party nod to run for president

FILE PHOTO: Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila casts her vote during the European Parliament Elections in Bucharest, Romania, May 26, 2019. Inquam Photos/Octav Ganea via REUTERS

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romania’s ruling Social Democrats (PSD) on Saturday confirmed Prime Minister Viorica Dancila as the party’s candidate in a Nov. 10 presidential election that polls show the incumbent centrist Klaus Iohannis winning comfortably.

The latest voter surveys show Iohannis garnering about 42% of the votes, followed by four other contenders on 10-13%, with Dancila trailing in sixth place on about 8%.

Dancila said, however, the “real opinion poll is only the election day.”

“I’m much stronger than all those men (politicians) shouting from the sidelines. I became Romania’s first female prime minister, I will become Romania’s first female president,” said Dancila — a protégé of former leader Liviu Dragnea, who is serving a three-and-a-half-year jail term for corruption.

About 1,000 PSD members gathered at a party congress on Saturday and voted unanimously to pick Dancila as the party’s sole candidate.

The party, which has a slim parliamentary majority with a junior ally, lost support in May’s European parliament election, winning about 26% of the vote — far below the 45% they won in the last national ballot in 2016.

The European ballot was the first popularity test for the PSD, which has been strongly criticised by Brussels and Washington for its overhaul of the judiciary and changes to anti-graft legislation. Romania will hold a second round of the presidential lection on Nov. 24 if no candidate wins an outright majority. Parliamentary elections are due in December 2020.

Reporting by Radu Marinas; Editing by Helen Popper

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