S VICTORY speeches go, it was the least bombastic that Romanians had heard in a long time. “The campaign is over, we made our choice. Now let’s get to work. I am very serious and determined,” said Klaus Iohannis, the liberal mayor of Sibiu, in Transylvania. He is the first Romanian from the country’s ethnic German Protestant minority to be elected president. That is quite a shock for such a conservative, majority-Orthodox country.
That Mr Iohannis won on November 16th was thanks largely to a turnout of 62%, the highest in 14 years. This reflected a protest vote against Victor Ponta, the Socialist prime minister who was the front-runner in all the opinion polls and ran a fiercely nationalist campaign. Another factor was the sight of thousands of Romanians abroad (mainly Iohannis voters) queuing for hours at overcrowded embassies and unable to cast their votes, which encouraged more voters at home. Despite protesters against Mr Ponta claiming electoral fraud, Mr Iohannis emerged as a big winner, with 54.5% of the vote.