Ethnic German wins Romania vote

Thousands of anti-government supporters celebrated Mr Iohannis’s victory on Sunday night


Opposition candidate Klaus Iohannis has won a surprise victory in Romania’s presidential election, defeating PM Victor Ponta after a tight race.

With most results declared, Mr Iohannis, mayor of Sibiu, had 54.5% of the vote to Mr Ponta’s 45.5%.

Mr Iohannis, 55 and an ethnic German, vowed to change politics and said “another kind of Romania is beginning”.

Romania is one of the most corrupt EU states, something the centre-right Mr Iohannis has vowed to tackle.

Despite the election result, Mr Ponta told a local TV channel that he had “no reason to resign” as prime minister.

He had hoped to become the country’s youngest president, replacing the incumbent Traian Basescu who cannot stand for re-election after serving two terms.

Klaus Iohannis – Romania’s president-elect

Profile of Klaus Iohannis

Romania’s large diaspora of up to four million people played a key role in the election. Many expat voters were said to be disillusioned with Mr Ponta.

After the first round of voting there were protests at polling stations in Paris, London and other cities. In some places voters had to queue for hours – with some unable to vote – leading to the resignation of the foreign minister last week.

The number of expatriate voters on Sunday more than doubled to 379,000 and large queues thronged polling stations at embassies and consulates across Europe, from Milan and Munich to London and Portsmouth.

Police in Paris fired tear gas on Sunday evening to disperse voters angry that they had been unable to cast their ballots. The new foreign minister had suggested that voters in France should travel instead to the eastern city of Nancy.

Romanian media praise election result

Expatriate voters overshadow presidential poll

Mr Ponta had been leading in the opinion polls and had beaten Mr Iohannis, the mayor of Sibiu in Transylvania, in the first round of the presidential election

We are a democratic country Mr Ponta said outside the headquarters of his Social Democratic Party on Sunday. “The people are always right

Mr Ponta, 42, had promised to reduce the budget deficit, increase pensions and the minimum wage

As prime minister, he oversaw economic growth and political stability in Romania, the EU’s second-poorest state after Bulgaria.

Aside from tackling corruption, Mr Iohannis, 55, promised in his election campaign to strengthen the independence of the judicial system.

Germany expels U.S. Embassy official amid spying allegations


(CNN) — The German government said Thursday it is expelling a person it describes as the representative of U.S. foreign intelligence services based at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin.

The move comes after two allegations emerged of Germans spying for the United States over the last week, claims prompting an investigation by German prosecutors of a suspect accused of passing secrets.

The call comes against the background of the current investigation by the federal prosecutor and questions that have remained unresolved for months about the activity of U.S. intelligence in Germany.

“The German government views these events as very serious,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert said.

In a statement, Seibert stressed the importance of “mutual trust and openness.”

“It remains essential for Germany, in the interest of the security of its citizens and its armed forces abroad, to cooperate closely on the basis of trust with its western partners, in particular with the USA.” Seibert said the government “is ready to offer that, and expects its closest partners to do the same.”

German prosecutors said Wednesday they are investigating a suspect accused of passing secrets.

“Officers of the federal criminal office have since this morning searched the living and office rooms of an accused in the Berlin area because of initial suspicion of secret service agency activity. They said “an arrest did not take place.”

As a matter of policy, White House spokesman Josh Earnest declined to comment on the reported intelligence activity.

“The reason for that is there’s an important principle at stake, which is declining to comment on them publicly allows for the sufficient protection of our national interests, in some cases the intelligence assets, and more generally, American national security,” he said.

Only last week, bursa German prosecutors ordered the arrest of a German citizen on suspicion of spying for foreign intelligence agencies.

On Friday, the German foreign office called in the U.S. ambassador to discuss it.

Both the German escort prosecutor and the foreign office released scarce information then, but officials have spoken in detail with German journalists, who published many reports on the allegations of U.S. spying on the country.

“If the reports are correct, it would be a serious case. If the allegations are true, it would be for me a clear contradiction to what I consider to be a trustful cooperation between agencies and partners,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Her warning came as U.S.-German relations are already shaky in the aftermath of disclosures by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden that showed the United States was listening in on Merkel’s phone calls.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in an interview Tuesday with the German news site Spiegel Online, said both countries need to talk about what intelligence collection should be allowed and what might thwart intelligence and security cooperation.

“Clearly, the surveillance on Chancellor Merkel’s phone was absolutely wrong,” she said.

Germany and other friendly countries complained when Snowden’s leaks last year revealed U.S. surveillance of foreign leaders as well as screening of foreign phone calls and Internet contacts in investigating terrorist ties.

The Obama administration responded that all countries conduct surveillance on each other, but the President also has ordered changes in U.S. programs.

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