Some 18 million Romanian voters are invited to choose their president for their next five years on Sunday. Polls opened at 7.00 in the morning with most candidates rushing to cast their vote early. The presidential poll will see two candidates confronting each other in a second round of elections, due in two weeks. These are the first elections to take place separately from general elections, since changes were brought to the Constitution in 2003.

The voting process ends at 9 p.m. local time. Exit polls are also expected at 9 p.m..

12 candidates run in the poll, which takes place simultaneously with a referendum called by incumbent President Traian Basescu for a reform of the Parliament. Read more about the referendum and the presidential elections here.

There are 41 county-level electoral precincts, one in Bucharest and one covering the Diaspora, with a total of 21,706 voting sections.

According to Romanian law, the electoral system used for the election of the President is the majority-based, uninominal system. The candidate with a majority of votes in the first round of elections is elected president. If no candidate claims a majority, a second round of elections is organized with the two top candidates in the first round going to face each other again.

Top candidates such as Social Democrat Mircea Geoana, incumbent president Traian Basescu and Liberal Crin Antonescu were among the first to vote on Sunday, as was Klaus Johannis, one of the nominees for the prime minister position in negotiations for the formation of a new government following the collapse of the Democratic Liberal Government led by Emil Boc earlier this autumn.

The first to cast their votes were Romanians living in New Zealand on Saturday evening Romanian time, according to an announcement by the Romanian Foreign minister.