Incumbent President Klaus Iohannis called a vote in presidential elections on Sunday, which placed him in pole position in a second round of polls later this month, as a clear vote against the Social Democrats (PSD). Third-placed Dan Barna, who hoped to come second and leave the SocDems out of the picture, showed hope that final results would be different. Second-placed Viorica Dancila of the PSD thanked all who voted "with their heart".
Exit polls announced on Sunday evening showed a clear victory for Iohannis, followed by Dancila of the PSD, with Dan Barna of USR coming third. But final results are not yet available as exit polls are based on data recorder earlier in the evening, while Romanians living abroad were still voting late into the night (Romanian time).
A second round of elections is due in two weeks.
In his speech as exit polls were announced, Klaus Iohannis proclaimed victory. He said the elections shoed a more serious defeat for the PSD than any time in the past 30 years as "never had Romanians voted in so many numbers and so clearly against the PSD - and this, for Romania, is a huge step forward."
Viorica Dancila, who proved she had enough party support to push her to a second round of elections despite losing government last month, said she would face Iohannis in a second round thanks to people who "voted with their heart". She said she did not fear late voting in the Diaspora would change the result.
But Dan Barna, who had hoped to defeat Dancila and place second in polls, said the result was not that of exit-polls, but of vote counting and showed optimism that the situation would change. Dacian Ciolos, leader of partner party PLUS, said that the game was still on as results so far did not account for the vote in the Diaspora.