Ponta, Iohannis challenge each other over electoral debates, opinion polls

First surveys for the presidential elections have also prompted the first harsh electoral fights among contenders. A Research Group opinion poll for the Liberal Studies Institute giving 42 per cent for Victor Ponta and 23 per cent for Klaus Iohannis heated the debate between the candidates with real chances to get in the runoff. Asked to comment the survey, Iohannis said: “The ballot is the best poll. Surveys are pointing out some trends, showing if a candidate has upward or downward drifts”. He also said polls usually have big margins of error and some candidates “are fixing them” to show off to the voters. Iohannis added that ACL also ordered an opinion poll that shows both Ponta and him are rated with unit 3 ahead (e.n. both of them are having 30 to 39 per cent odds to become President).

Another survey conducted by GSSC Avangarde gave Ponta also 42 per cent in the first round and 28 per cent for Iohannis. In the runoff, Iohannis would gather 55 per cent of the votes in Transylvania, 34 per cent in Muntenia, 40 per cent in Moldova and 43 per cent in Bucharest, while Ponta would count on 66 per cent in Muntenia, 60 per cent in Moldova and 57 per cent in Bucharest.

Yet, the electoral combat is not fought only in opinion polls. The social media is asking for its tribute, changing the candidates’ hit parade. According to a Mediafax Monitoring, the most notorious contenders are not necessarily the most highlighted on TV and radio stations or in print media, while the new comers, who have entered the race later on, scored slight increase in their media appearances.

Another Mediafax Research & Monitoring review is registering the presence of the candidates on Facebook. Last week data show that Klaus Iohannis gained a slight lead ahead Elena Udrea when it comes to fans, but also ahead Victor Ponta on ‘the like” head. Victor Ponta tops the fans’ chart, with 538,127 supporters, followed by Iohannis- 226,889 fans and Elena Udrea- 225,329. As a matter of fact the total number of all candidates’ fans has risen up to 5 per cent, reaching to more than 1 million, covering 16 per cent of the Romanians having a Facebook account. The 1 million Facebook fans gave 537,979 likes, 37,055 shares and posted 22,363 comments.

Although he ranked third in the posts’ chart (43 posts) after Monica Macovei (71 posts) and Victor Ponta (56 posts), Iohannis gathered the most ‘likes’ -196,917- unlike Ponta who had 183, 609 likes and Macovei with only 74,636 likes. Iohannis is also holding the first position when it comes to the average ‘likes’ figure per post.

In another train of thoughts, the presidential contenders are also warming up for the TV electoral debates. Although he said one month ago he is not interested in the debates before the first round of elections, PM Ponta changed his mind, on Tuesday inviting all 13 competitors to go on public debates for both rounds. Thus, the prime minister suggested a debate getting together all 14 candidates for the first round, while framing minimum three TV encounters for the runoff on Constitution, foreign policy and economic vision topics, that will necessarily include “a sword play” between the premiers-designate.

At this moment it’s not very clear who these premiers-designate would be. Iohannis is the only one who unveiled support for Catalin Predoiu for the prime minister position one month ago, but hasn’t tackled the topic ever since. As for Ponta, Hotnews spread the information that the incumbent PM will go for SRI head George Maior, who actually announced a few days ago that he would stand down from the Romanian Intelligence Service’s helm after elections.

While on RFI Klaus Iohannis retorted to Ponta that he is willing to take part in any face-off, reminding he was the first to challenge for an electoral debate a month ago. “Here is the prime minister reconsidering the debates’ topic. Sure, I am willing to discuss about our projects, about economy, the rule of law and independence of justice, only I haven’t seen the last two topics in the premier’s speech”, Iohannis said.

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