Romanians are voting in an election that's set to propel Prime Minister Victor Ponta toward the presidency after he batted away corruption investigations of members of his party and allegations he's a former spy, Bloomberg reported.
Polling stations opened at 7 a.m. in Bucharest and close at 9 p.m. Social Democrat Ponta, 42, has a lead of as much as 13 percentage points over Liberal Party head Klaus Johannis heading into the first leg of a presidential ballot, polls show. That would set up a runoff between the two on Nov. 16, which Ponta would win, according to the surveys.
The campaign has been overshadowed by raids on the homes of senior Social Democrats over graft and accusations by outgoing President Traian Basescu that Ponta served in the intelligence service before entering politics. The premier says the probes won't be stopped and denies Basescu's claims. To voters, Ponta's vows to boost living standards and pensions trump the scandals, according to the Institute for Public Policies in Bucharest.
"The opposition are locked in a so-called silver-bullet mentality, waiting for a decisive blow to come out of the sky and demolish Ponta," said Adrian Moraru, an analyst at the institute, which has been studying Romanian elections since 2004. "The problem is that none of his rivals seem to have the capacity to deliver that blow."