Iohannis promises corruption crackdown as new Romanian president

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Centre-right politician Klaus Iohannis was sworn in as Romania’s president on Sunday, promising to crack down on corruption and strengthen institutions 25 years after the fall of communism. Iohannis won a surprise victory against the leftist prime minister, Victor Ponta, in November's election. "There is a need for the whole political class to understand there is no other way for Romania except that of a country rid of corruption," Iohannis, 55, told the joint session of the lower house and senate. "I want that at the end of my term people can see we have made durable laws, solid institutions," he said in the blue-and-gold domed hall of the parliament building built by former communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. Iohannis replaces centre-right politician Traian Basescu, who served for a decade in which Romania joined the European Union in 2007 and saw record economic growth rates before a real estate bubble burst, forcing it to seek help from the International Monetary Fund. The former communist state of 20 million is emerging from painful budget cuts imposed during the slowdown. Growth rebounded to more than 3 percent in the third quarter of 2014, but corruption and tax evasion are rife. Progress to implement reforms and overhaul a bloated state sector is mixed. Political squabbles have often hampered Romania's progress in its 25 years of democracy. Prime minister since 2012, Ponta often feuded with the outgoing president, which stymied policymaking and caused a constitutional crisis. Iohannis, an ethnic German former mayor of a town in Transylvania, has promised to be a unifying president. On Sunday, he said he would soon call all political parties for consultations on a plan of action. The presidential role is largely ceremonial, but comes with important powers at important moments. The president oversees foreign politics, appoints the prime minister and he can also veto bills and send them back to parliament for more consideration. (Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Alison Williams)