Romanian PM Victor Ponta won 40% of votes in the first round of presidential elections on Sunday, followed at a distance of about 6-10% by main rival Klaus Iohannis, according to exit polls announced at 9 p.m. A very close fight is taking place for the third place, with Monica Macovei appearing to be shoulder to shoulder with Calin Popescu Tariceanu and Elena Udrea in lead of the pack. The exit polls are partial and reflect the situation at 7 p.m., while not including a very important vote of the large Romanian diaspora.

The top two candidates are to face each other in a second round of elections on November 16.

Exit poll by pollster CSCI for Romania TV news channel:

  • Victor Ponta - 40%, Klaus Iohannis 31%, Monica Macovei - 5 %, Tariceanu - 6 %, Elena Udrea - 5%

Exit poll by pollster CSOP for Realitatea TV news channel:

  • Victor Ponta -  38.2%, Klaus Iohannis -  32.1%, Monica Macovei -  6%, Tariceanu -  6%, Elena Udrea -  6%

Exit poll by pollster IRES for Digi 24 news channel:

  • Victor Ponta - 41.5%, Klaus Iohannis - 31.2%, Tariceanu - 5.3%, Elena Udrea - 5.1%, Monica Macovei - 4.5%

Exit poll by pollster Sociopol for Antena 3:

  • Victor Ponta - 40%, Klaus Iohannis - 31%, Tariceanu - 6%, Elena Udrea - 5%, Monica Macovei - 4%, Dan Diaconescu - 4%, Vadim Tudor - 3%, Melescanu - 1%

Partial results are expected to be announced starting Monday morning.

UPDATE The results were received cautiously by PM Ponta and his party, with long faces awaiting for about 45 minutes before the candidate turned up for the usual comments on the outcome. He said that he and his rival Iohannis start on equal footing in the race for the second round of elections and that he would focus on his foreign affairs, national security and state of law priorities as president. The results were also received with long faces in the studios of Ponta-friendly TV news channels.

Meanwhile, Iohannis urged voters to come and back him for the second round, saying that of all candidates he alone remains to defend the independence of justice and the state of law.