Romanian president survives court threat
Romania’s Constitutional Court has struck down a referendum to impeach president Traian Basescu, foiling a drive by the left-wing government to remove its chief political opponent just months before a parliamentary election.
The government yesterday said it would accept the decision but the acting president said Mr Basescu was now an “illegitimate” leader.
The battle pitting Mr Basescu against prime minister Victor Ponta could flare again as one of the European Union’s poorest states faces tough austerity demands from international lenders.
The court ruled that a 29 July referendum called by the government to remove the political veteran Mr Basescu was invalid because turnout fell short of the required 50 per cent of the 18.3 million electorate.
“We stated that the referendum quorum condition was not met,” chief judge Augustin Zegrean told reporters. He said Mr Basescu, suspended by parliament before the referendum which was needed to confirm the impeachment, could return to power.
The crisis has crippled policymaking, depressed the leu currency and angered the EU, which accused Mr Ponta of undermining democracy and intimidating judges in a country long criticised for corruption.
Mr Basescu could return to office within days, pending rubber-stamping of the court decision by parliament, possibly tomorrow.
The right-wing president’s term expires in 2014. Mr Ponta said he would respect and implement the ruling.
His government had maintained that the referendum should stand based on updated lists that stripped out voters who live abroad or have died.
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