Romania’s Ponta Won’t Seek Second Term Amid Scandal Pressure

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Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta, fighting for his political survival after anti-graft prosecutors charged him this month, said he doesn’t plan to seek a second term in office when his party targets re-election in 2016.

Ponta, who denies allegations including forgery and money laundering, said he hopes to see out his current spell, which ends next December. The nation’s youngest-ever premier, who’s already quit as head of the Social Democratic Party, said the ruling coalition can cope without him after that.

“I want us to win a new majority,” Ponta, 42, said late Monday in an interview with the Antena3 private TV station. “There are other colleagues who can lead the government.”

Ponta is losing his hold on power after becoming the first sitting head of a Romanian government to face criminal charges, part of a wide-ranging crackdown on graft in the European Union’s second-poorest member. While Ponta has refused calls from President Klaus Iohannis to resign, the scandal has helped the opposition Liberal Party extend its lead in polls.

The leu has overcome the political tensions, gaining 0.5 percent since news of the corruption probe broke at the start of June. It gained 0.1 percent Tuesday to 4.4140 against the euro, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Ponta, who took about one month of medical leave in June for a knee operation in Turkey, will again delegate his duties to Deputy Premier Gabriel Oprea until Aug. 17 to undergo further surgery and take a holiday, according to Mediafax.

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